Monday, February 28, 2011

USA Today Lies with Statistics; Falsely Claims Public Employee Pay is Higher than in Private Sector

Forget about whether you're liberal or conservative, pro-union or anti. A simple question: in either the public or the private sector, would you not expect a college grad who has worked his or her job for 4 years to be paid significantly more than someone with a high school diploma who's had his or her gig for 2 years?

And if the college grad were in fact paid more, would that be unfair somehow? Would it be cause for jealousy and resentment? Apparently, USA Today thinks so.

The tabloid lies with statistics through the first 7 paragraphs of this 8-paragraph "analysis." Here's the lede:
Wisconsin is one of 41 states where public employees earn higher average pay and benefits than private workers in the same state, a USA TODAY analysis finds. Still, the compensation of Wisconsin's government workers ranks below the national average for public employees and has increased only slightly since 2000.
Graphs 3 and 4:
The analysis of government data found that public employee compensation has grown faster than the earnings of private workers since 2000. Primary cause: the rising value of benefits.
They could have mentioned that 37 percent of public workers belong to a union, versus 7 percent in the private sector, but that's just a quibble.
Wisconsin is typical. State, city and school district workers earned an average of $50,774 in wages and benefits in 2009, about $1,800 more than in the private sector. The state ranked 33rd in public employee compensation among the states and Washington, D.C. It had ranked 20th in 2000.
And very careful readers only get a dose of reality -- a limited one -- in the final graph:
Economist Jeffrey Keefe of the liberal Economic Policy Institute says the analysis is misleading because it doesn't reflect factors such as education that result in higher pay for public employees.
That's right, their analysis just compared average wages, and didn't adjust for different job requirements, age, education or experience. It's not misleading, it's entirely meaningless. Unless, of course, you think that high school grad with less experience should be paid the same.

As I wrote last year, Public sector workers have, on average, more experience and higher levels of education than their counterparts in the private sector (they are twice as likely to have a college degree). Economist John Schmitt found that when one controls for those factors -- comparing apples to apples --state and local employees earn almost 4 percent less than their brethren in corporate America. (Even accounting for their greater benefits, state and local employees still make less in total compensation than they would doing the same work in the private sector.)

The thing that I find so egregious about this is that the reporter, Dennis Cauchon, spoke with an economist who told him this, but didn't include any of the numbers I cite above. This is how people are being mislead to believe that public workers are the new welfare queens.

Here's an email for corrections and clarifications:, and here's an editorial feedback form. If you're sick of this kind of distortion passing itself off as unbiased journalism, let 'em know.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Only the Wealthiest Favor Stripping Workers' Collective Bargaining Rights

A poll conducted by Gallup earlier this week found that Americans opposed stripping public employees' of their right to negotiate with their employers by a margin of 2 to 1. It got a lot of play (as did Fox News reversing the results and reporting that 61 percent of the public favored the GOP's union-busting).

Today, Greg Sargent dug into the poll's internals, and came up with something worth noting:
It turns out that the only income group that favors Governor Scott Walker's proposal to roll back public employee bargaining rights are those who make over $90,000. 
As you know, Gallup released a poll earlier this week finding that 61 percent of Americans oppose Walker's plan, versus only 33 percent who are in favor. It turns out Gallup has crosstabs which give us an income breakdown of that finding, which the firm sent my way
* Among those who make less than $24,000 annually, 74 percent oppose the proposal, versus only 14 percent who favor it. 
* Among those who make $24,000 to $59,000, 63 percent oppose the proposal, versus only 33 percent who favor it. 
* Among those who make $60,000 to $89,000, 53 percent oppose the proposal, versus only 41 percent who favor it. 
* Among those who make $90,000 and up, 50 percent favor the proposal, versus 47 percent who oppose it.
This makes perfect sense for several reasons. Higher income workers have greater job security, better retirement and health benefits and their wages have been rising while most Americans' have not. In other words, they already have what a union secures for working people beneath them on the food chain.

Also, within that group are a good number of investors and, as I wrote yesterday, only through collective bargaining can workers end up with a free market wage. Without it, they end up being paid below what the market would bear and the difference gets pocketed by investors. As such, union-busting is a weapon of class warfare from above.

Having said that, the top income bracket in Gallup's cross-tabs only broke for the proposal 50-47.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Vatican: Priests Have Been Raping Nuns to Avoid Hookers with HIV

Let us take a moment to recall Pope Benedict's view of what caused the Holocaust:
As we reflect on the sobering lessons of the atheist extremism of the twentieth century, let us never forget how the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and of society and thus to a reductive vision of the person and his destiny.
It was a ballsy statement coming from a man who was once a member of the Hitler Youth and now leads the Catholic Church, but the argument is not uncommon. 'What is morality to a Godless atheist?' is a common refrain among 'radical clerics' of every faith.

Anyhoo ...
The Catholic Church in Rome made the extraordinary admission yesterday that it is aware priests from at least 23 countries have been sexually abusing nuns. 
The Catholic Church in Rome made the extraordinary admission yesterday that it is aware priests from at least 23 countries have been sexually abusing nuns. 
Most of the abuse has occurred in Africa, where priests vowed to celibacy, who previously sought out prostitutes, have preyed on nuns to avoid contracting the Aids virus. 
Confidential Vatican reports obtained by the National Catholic Reporter, a weekly magazine in the US, have revealed that members of the Catholic clergy have been exploiting their financial and spiritual authority to gain sexual favours from nuns, particularly those from the Third World who are more likely to be culturally conditioned to be subservient to men. 
The reports, some of which are recent and some of which have been in circulation for at least seven years, said that such priests had demanded sex in exchange for favours, such as certification to work in a given diocese. 
In extreme instances, the priests had made nuns pregnant and then encouraged them to have abortions.
I don't get how they could be so sleazily predatory without the moral relativism.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Craziest Wingnut in America Wants to Criminalize Unauthorized Vaginal Bleeding

With the rise of the Tea Partiers, there's intense competition for the title of Craziest Wingnut Holding Public Office.

But Georgia state rep. Bobby Franklin, R-Marietta, has to be considered the top contender. He was the one who proposed a law that would require rape and sexual assault victims -- but not the victims of any other crimes -- to be called "accusers" unless there was a conviction in their cases.

Then Franklin introduced a bill that would do away with drivers' licenses, arguing that they “are a throw back to oppressive times.” As CBS reported:
In his bill, Franklin states, "free people have a common law and constitutional right to travel on the roads and highways that are provided by their government for that purpose. Licensing of drivers cannot be required of free people, because taking on the restrictions of a license requires the surrender of an inalienable right."
(More details on both measures here.)

Now Lindsay Beyerstein brings us word of Franklin's latest:
A Georgia Representative has introduced a bill to investigate all unsupervised miscarriages as crime scenes. Don't believe me? Here's the relevant language from HB 1, downloadable from legislature's website: 
When a spontaneous fetal death required to be reported by this Code section occurs without medical attendance at or immediately after the delivery or when inquiry is required by Article 2 of Chapter 16 of Title 45, the ‘Georgia Death Investigation Act,’ the proper investigating official shall investigate the cause of fetal death and shall prepare and file the report within 30 days[...]
Beyerstein adds that the bill "is radical even by the standards of people who think fertilized ova are people." That's an understatement -- according to MoJo, "Both miscarriages and abortions would be potentially punishable by death."

One has to conclude that Bobby Franklin doesn't need a challenger so much as a decent shrink.

Cross-posted at AlterNet and Dirty Hippies.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Note to Tea-Baggers: Public Workers Aren't Demanding Anything from the "Taxpayers"

A common refrain from people wishing to destroy public employees' unions is that their workers are 'demanding more from the tax-payers.' It's a testament to how confused the Right is about the role of government.

Public employees are not demanding anything from "the taxpayer." They are workers demanding fair wages from their bosses.

We live in a democracy, and tax-payers get to participate by voting. If, for example, one doesn't like our public education system, one can vote for a representative who shares his or her view on the subject.

However, a sizable majority of Americans do want a decent public school system. It's a democracy, so we'll have public schools. That's the end of the role of the tax-payer in this story.

Now, our schools need to hire teachers, and those teachers are workers, and our school system is their employer. They're not making any demands on the tax-payer -- the tax-payers role was deciding to have public education in the first place. And the same can be said of garbage collection, law enforcement or anything else the public sector does.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Blast from the Past: George Bush Bragged About Diplomatic Success With Blood-Stained Libyan Despot Muammar Gaddafi

I think you really have to give the right some credit for sheer Chutzpah. Just 7 short years after George W. Bush normalized relations with the Libyan regime, over the strong opposition of Barack Obama, some conservatives actually have the nerve to revise that very recent history and claim the reverse to be true (causing even Debbie Schussel, of all people, to cry 'foul').

Anyway, I dug this bit out of Bush's 2004 State of the Union speech:
Because of American leadership and resolve, the world is changing for the better. Last month, the leader of Libya voluntarily pledged to disclose and dismantle all of his regime's weapons of mass destruction programs, including a uranium enrichment project for nuclear weapons. Colonel Qadhafi correctly judged that his country would be better off, and far more secure, without weapons of mass murder. Nine months of intense negotiations involving the United States and Great Britain succeeded with Libya, while 12 years of diplomacy with Iraq did not. And one reason is clear: For diplomacy to be effective, words must be credible -- and no one can now doubt the word of America.
Yup, diplomacy was great with the eminently-reasonable colonel Gaddafi, but didn't result in Saddam Hussein handing over the weapons that he had destroyed a decade earlier.

And ever since that time, "no one can doubt the word of America."

Details from the State Department's background notes -- and you might note that all of this happened prior to January of 2009:
The U.S. terminated the applicability of the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act to Libya and President Bush signed an Executive Order on September 20, 2004 terminating the national emergency with respect to Libya and ending IEEPA-based economic sanctions. This action had the effect of unblocking assets blocked under the Executive Order sanctions. Restrictions on cargo aviation and third-party code-sharing have been lifted, as have restrictions on passenger aviation. Certain export controls remain in place. 
U.S. diplomatic personnel reopened the U.S. Interest Section in Tripoli on February 8, 2004. The mission was upgraded to a U.S. Liaison Office on June 28, 2004, and to a full embassy on May 31, 2006. The establishment in 2005 of an American School in Tripoli demonstrates the increased presence of Americans in Libya, and the continuing normalization of bilateral relations. Libya re-established its diplomatic presence in Washington with the opening of an Interest Section on July 8, 2004, which was subsequently upgraded to a Liaison Office in December 2004 and to a full embassy on May 31, 2006.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Correction: It's a Ginned-Up "Crisis," but Scott Walker Isn't Entirely to Blame for Wisconsin's Budget Gap

It's been widely reported that Scott Walker inherited a $120 million budget surplus, and then promptly created a budget deficit in order to break the backs of Wisconsin's public employees' unions. On Friday, I quoted Ezra Klein of the Washington Postexplaining that Walker had " signed two business tax breaks and a conservative health-care policy experiment that lowers overall tax revenues (among other things). The new legislation was not offset, and it turned a surplus into a deficit."

Politifact did an analysis of this issue which shows that Walker in fact inherited a manageable, long-term budget gap and then spun it as an imminent crisis that must be addressed this year.

The reports stem from a a Jan. 31, 2011 memo prepared by Robert Lang, the director of the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, that was picked up by the Associated Press and a number of other outlets. It does state that Wisconsin was on course for a surplus this year, which the media reported that in good faith. The issue is what Politifact refers to as the memo's "fine print."
[It] outlines $258 million in unpaid bills or expected shortfalls in programs such as Medicaid services for the needy ($174 million alone), the public defender’s office and corrections. Additionally, the state owes Minnesota $58.7 million under a discontinued tax reciprocity deal.
The result, by our math and Lang’s, is the $137 million shortfall.
None of this changes the fact that Walker dishonestly portrayed his union-busting bill as a budget fix. The provision stripping state workers' right to negotiate for better benefits wouldn't take effect until their existing contracts expire, meaning that it would have zero impact on the state's bottom line in the immediate future. The savings from shifting more pension and health-care costs onto workers -- which the unions have already agreed to -- would amount to just $30 million. Finally, an uncontroversial provision in the bill would restructure the state's outstanding debt, saving $160 million -- more than enough to close the gap this year.
Politifact adds:
To be sure, the projected shortfall is a modest one by the standards of the last decade, which saw a $600 million repair bill one year as the economy and national tax collections slumped.

Walker's Own Statement Proves that His Assault on Public Employees Has Nothing to do with Wisconsin's Budget Shortfall

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has a long history trying to break public sector unions. But last week, as the Milwaukee Business Times reported, he insisted that "his bill was strictly based on the need to cut the budget and was not based on any political agenda." Indeed, the bill was introduced by the governor as an "emergency measure... needed to balance the state budget and give government the tools to manage during economic crisis."

But a close reading of the governor's own press release announcing the measure shows just how misleading that claim really is.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Joe Klein: Either Clueless About the Wisconsin Uprising or Simply Shilling for the Union-Busters

Time's Joe Klein has written an offensively dishonest column attacking Wisconsin's public employees. Every paragraph is packed with the kind of knee-jerk contempt for working people that's become endemic in our mainstream discourse -- it's truly eye-opening.

Allow me to begin where Klein proves that he is either wildly ignorant of what's actually at stake in this fight, or is willfully misleading his readers. (I don't pretend to know which.)
... it seems to me that Governor Scott Walker's basic requests are modest ones--asking public employees to contribute more to their pension and health care plans, though still far less than most private sector employees do. He is also trying to limit the unions' abilities to negotiate work rules--and this is crucial when it comes to the more efficient operation of government in a difficult time.
If you have been led to believe that this is what the battle is about, please check out my piece on AlterNet's front page. Walker's "basic requests" include seizing control of the state's Medicaid funding, stripping state workers of the right to negotiate the details of their benefits package and capping the wages they can gain in negotiations. He offered this bill only after being informed that he didn't have the power to simply decertify the unions outright.

Protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square Show Solidarity with Wisconsin Workers' Uprising

They say a picture's worth a thousand words...

Thanks to Zach Farley for the pic.

During the past 3 months, we've seen mass protests against varied injustices in Albania, Algeria, Bahrain, Bolivia, Britain, Djibouti, Egypt, Greece, Haiti, Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Libya, Syria, Thailand, Tunisia, Wisconsin and Yemen.

Did I forget any?

Friday, February 18, 2011

9 Things You Need to Know About the Uprising in Wisconsin

What's happening in Wisconsin is not complicated. At the beginning of this year, the state was on course to end 2011 with a budget surplus of $120 million dollars. As Ezra Klein explained, newly elected GOP Governor Scott Walker then " signed two business tax breaks and a conservative health-care policy experiment that lowers overall tax revenues (among other things). The new legislation was not offset, and it turned a surplus into a deficit."

Walker then used the deficit he created as a premise to assault his state's public employees using a law cooked up by a right-wing advocacy group called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC likes to fly beneath the radar, but I described the organization in a 2005 article as "the connective tissue that links state legislators with right-wing think tanks, leading anti-tax activists and corporate money."

This has nothing to do with the state's fiscal picture, and everything to do with destroying the last bastion of unionism in the American economy: public employees.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Woman Targeted in FBI Raid on "Anonymous" Hackers' Group Tells her Tale

The FBI is apparently quite serious about prosecuting the hackers' group known only as Anonymous for a string of attacks it launched on companies that severed ties with Wikileaks.

Gawker has an interview with a 19 year-old California woman who was the target of one of the FBI's raids.

In it, we learn that:

* The FBI thinks Anonymous is a traditional, hierarchical enterprise, and are trying, perhaps futilely, to "cut the head off the snake."

* They have the idea that the group's members all have Guy Fawkes masks in their closets.

* It's not a good idea to call your little sister a revolutionary, because you never know when the FBI will raid your house at 6 am and take it seriously.

* Her father's really pissed.

Well worth the read, which is here.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Gipper Goes to CPAC

Here is a giant cake in the shape of a bust of Ronald Reagan. It's at CPAC!

And note the spelling of the word "Berlin" on the little Berlin Wall that accents this monstrosity.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Married GOPer Talked "Family Values" While Trying to Hook Up on Craig's List

It's almost axiomatic that the more frequently a social conservative talks a about promoting "family values," the more likely he or she is to stray from those values, and the only question is whether they're just having a plain old vanilla affair with a member of the opposite sex or go for diapers, auto-asphyxiation in wet-suits or raw-dogging male prostitutes while high on meth.

Sadly, at least as far as our Schadenfreude needs go, the taste's of the latest (alleged) member of this club run pretty vanilla.

Rep. Christopher Lee is a married Republican congressman serving the 26th District of New York. But when he trolls Craigslist's "Women Seeking Men" forum, he's Christopher Lee, "divorced" "lobbyist" and "fit fun classy guy." One object of his flirtation told us her story. 
On the morning of Friday, January 14, a single 34-year-old woman put an ad in the "Women for Men" section of Craigslist personals. "Will someone prove to me not all CL men look like toads?" she asked, inviting "financially & emotionally secure" men to reply.
By email, Lee identified himself as a 39-year-old divorced lobbyist and sent a PG picture to the woman from the ad. (In fact, Lee is married and has one son with his wife. He's also 46.)
None of this would even be of interest, of course, except for the fact that, as Maureen O'Connor notes, the Rep's "support for 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' and vote to reject federal abortion funding suggests a certain comfort with publicly scrutinizing others' sex lives."

Anyway, the Congressman says his email account must have been hacked, to which Occam replied, 'maybe, but I'm guessing that you just got busted trawling for some strange on Craigslist.'

Update: Lee, via twitter: "I am announcing that I have resigned my seat in Congress effective immediately.” Surprising -- did nobody tell him that It's OK If You're a Republican?

Ron Paul Invites Neo-Confederate to Testify About Federal Reserve Before Congress

Ron Paul has long dodged allegations that he (or at least his staffers) has connections to white supremacists. (I have expressed some reason to be skeptical about this notion, but at the very least he's extremely careless in terms of whom he chooses to associate with.)

Anyway, that makes this little exchange, flagged by Oliver Willis, all the more interesting:
The ranking Democrat on a House panel overseeing the Federal Reserve on Wednesday accused a witness invited by Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) of being affiliated with a “hate group.” 
The first meeting of the House Financial Services Committee’s subcommittee on domestic monetary policy had a tense moment when Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) questioned the background of Dr. Thomas DiLorenzo. 
Clay went after DiLorenzo, an economic professor at Loyola University invited to testify by Paul, for his connections with the League of the South, which has been identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a “neo-Confederate” group. The league identifies DiLorenzo as an “affiliated scholar” of its League of the South Institute for the Study of Southern Culture and History. 
“After reviewing your work and the so-called message you employ, I still do not understand you being invited to testify today on the unemployment situation,” Clay said. “But I do know that I have no questions for you.”
Oliver adds some background:
The League of the South is a neo-Confederate group that advocates for a second Southern secession and a society dominated by “European Americans.” The league believes the “godly” nation it wants to form should be run by an “Anglo-Celtic” (read: white) elite that would establish a Christian theocratic state and politically dominate blacks and other minorities. Originally founded by a group that included many Southern university professors, the group lost its Ph.D.s as it became more explicitly racist. The league denounces the federal government and northern and coastal states as part of “the Empire,” a materialist and anti-religious society.
Maybe the GOP should re-brand itself as the Confederate Party.

Hackers Reveal BofA's Strategy Against Wikileaks: Disinformation, Intimidation and Sabotage

Bank of America has long insisted that it's not sweating the exposure of its internal operations that Wikileaks' founder Julian Assange promised in interviews last year, an exposure that just might bring the financial giant to its knees (or not -- nobody on the outside knows what Wikileaks is holding).

But internal emails from a cyber-security firm paint a very different picture. BofA officials were sufficiently worried about the potential revelations to have a law-firm it retained develop a plan to discredit and disrupt Wikileaks through a variety of nefarious means.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Fox News Crew Severely Beaten by Mubarak's Thugs in Cairo reports:
FOX News Channel's veteran foreign correspondent Greg Palkot and his camerman Olaf Wiig have suffered severe injuries in Cairo while covering the unrest in the Egypt capital. Palkot was badly beaten and Wiig has a possible broken jaw after attacked by pro-Hosni Mubarak supporters yesterday. Both were hospitalized overnight.
Fox, out of concern for their crew's safety, didn't report the incident until their crew was released from the hospital. also notes that Wiig was taken hostage for two weeks in the Gaza strip in 2007.

We'll see if the right-wingers who shamelessly delighted in the pummeling of CNN's Anderson Cooper express more sympathy for a Fox news crew.

Here's video:

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Jimmy Carter Target of Malicious Lawsuit for Authoring Palestine: Peace not Apartheid

Jimmy Carter has long been the target of what MJ Rosenberg calls "the Status Quo Lobby" (he's right to deny them the "pro-Israel" label).

Now an enterprising attorney has filed a class-action suit against the former president -- and publisher Simon and Shuster -- that can only be seen as an ideologically-driven nuisance lawsuit.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Wing-Nuts: Children of Undocumented Immigrants Can't Be Prosecuted for Crimes

It's fun to take what passes for an "argument" on the far right to its logical conclusion. The exercise tends to show just how fallacious their claims really are.

Consider efforts to strip citizenship from the children of undocumented immigrants. You may like it, or you may hate it, but a simple objective truth is that the principle is not only enshrined in the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, it's also a "super-precedent" -- a legal doctrine that has been tested and affirmed in a long series of Supreme Court cases.

Be Very Afraid!

The WaPo tells me that "lawmakers want more security on northern border" -- you know, because we're no pissing away enough cash militarizing the Southern one. 

They're scared for good reason:
A new government report says that less than 1 percent of the 4,000-mile U.S.-Canada border is considered under the operational control of U.S. border officials.
Seriously, folks, Al Qaeda could smuggle across some Poutine of Mass Destruction. Could happen.

Shocking-but-True: I Will Now Defend the Media

Steve Benen is a guy who's generally right, but I think he's off target with this one:
Four federal district courts have heard challenges testing the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. Two judges concluded the law is legally permissible, two came to the opposite conclusion. 
He then takes a look at how the media reported these decisions and concludes:
The coverage discrepancy is overwhelming. One of the two pro-reform rulings didn't even make the Washington Post's A section at all. In literally every instance, the Republican-friendly rulings generated more coverage, with better placement, and longer stories than the rulings preferred by Democrats.A court upholding a law passed by Congress is simply not as big of a story as a court overturning a law passed by the legislature. 
The problem here is that a court upholding a law passed by Congress is simply not as significant a story as a court overturning a law passed by the legislature. The courts are supposed to defer to Congress in any close call. It's called judicial restraint.

Man bites dog is legitimately a bigger story than dog bites man, and I think that, rather than the typical bias towards Republican ideas, is what's going on here.

Wingnuts Propose Mandate for Gun Ownership; End Up Supporting Health-Care Reform

Taegan Goddard's on wingnut watch:
"Five South Dakota lawmakers have introduced legislation that would require any adult 21 or older to buy a firearm "sufficient to provide for their ordinary self-defense," the Sioux Falls Argus Leader reports.
The bill would give people six months to acquire a firearm -- "suitable to their temperament, physical capacity, and preference" -- after turning 21.
Rep. Hal Wick (R) "is sponsoring the bill and knows it will be killed. But he said he is introducing it to prove a point that the federal health care reform mandate passed last year is unconstitutional."
These people are so confused.

As I wrote last week, what they're proposing was in fact the law of the land in the early days of the republic.

In 1792, none other than George Washington signed the Uniform Militia Act, a law requiring every white male citizen to purchase a whole basket of items – “a good musket or firelock, a sufficient bayonet and belt, two spare flints, and a knapsack, a pouch, with a box therein” – from private companies.

Many of the Founders served in the 2nd Congress, yet no Constitutional issues were raised at the time.

Conservatives have dismissed the relevance of that law to the current health-care debate because it was passed under the auspices of the Constitution's militia clauses, not, like the ACA, under the Commerce Clause.

So along comes these yahoos to show, yet again, that they haven't the slightest grasp of either American history or what the Constitution does and does not permit the government to do. Because either mandating that citizens buy a gun is irrelevant to today's debate as it doesn't fall under the Commerce Clause, or, if the opposite is true, it discredits their whole argument against the insurance reforms.

How Not To Say Dumb Things About Egypt

Sarthanapalos' Guide on How Not to Say Stupid Stuff About Egypt (ht: Angry Black Lady) is all worthwhile, but I'd be happy if the pundits wrapped their respective heads around just this one item:
The Muslim Brotherhood is not on the U.S. Foreign Terrorist Organizations list. It renounced violence in the 1970s and has no active militia.
Of course people like Frank Gaffney and Pam Geller are going to freak out at the prospect of scary Mooslims exerting some influence over their own societies. Fish swim, birds fly, and unhinged Islamophobes vilify Islam with false, or stunningly simplistic narratives.

But it is dismaying just how prone the media are to accept these arguments -- the pump of paranoia is well primed. It's not surprising, mind you, just dismaying.

On CNN yesterday, Anderson Cooper (I think) actually asked Fareed Zacharia whether Egypt may be following the course of the Iranian Revolution.