No Bush Left Behind: NCLB Used as Bush Friends and Family Profit Plan

The implimentation of No Child Left Behind may have been a disaster for education, but it has sure helped at least on Bush. Business Week reports that Neil Bush is selling instructional software designed to teach to the test. Bush’s company expects to make $5 million off of this in 2006. This isn’t the first time Neil’s company has made the news. Back in March there were reports that Barbara Bush donated money to the “Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund with specific instructions that the money be spent with an educational software company owned by her son Neil.” This also follows other recent reports of NCLB being used to benefit Bush cronies.

IU Study: The Daily Show As Substantive As Network News

An Indiana University study finds that The Daily Shows has as much substance in political reporting as the network news. Jon Stewart would be the first to say his show is a comedy show, not a news show, so I would think he would not be offended if I say that this is serious criticism of network news, verifying the arguments that they provide far too little substantive coverage of politics and other serious news. (Hat tip to BuzzMachine.)

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Druge Implodes, Taking Halperin Down With Him

Eric Boehlert, author of Lapdogs, has an excellent post at Huffington Post on Matt Drudge. He notes that “Matt Drudge this week became completely unglued over the widening Mark Foley scandal, flailing around trying to help Republicans get back on the offensive.” See his post (as well as this one at The American Prospect) for more specifics about Drudge.

As Boehlert points out, seeing Drudge implode like this is particularly amusing after Mark Halperin and John Harris made the rather strange claim that Drudge is “the Walter Cronkite of his era” in their book The Way to Win. Not only isn’t Drudge in Cronkite’s league, he really isn’t even in the same profession.

Halperin and Harris’s book includes many of the right wing talking points about Kerry. This isn’t really surprising considering how often Halperin includes such talking points as fact in The Note. In a way I was happy to see Halperin’s anti-Kerry feeling be so clear in this book. On occasion I got involved in debates about Kerry in which Halperin was cited as an objective source despite his propensity for passing off right wing talking points. This book should make it easier to demonstrate the degree to which Halperin is a right wing hack and hardly objective.

Boelhlert includes additional examples of Halperin tying himself to Drudge recently. I was really surprised by this. Halperin loves to repeat right wing talking points while pretending to be a neutral, unbiased source. Considering that, I’m really surprised by how he is allowing himself to be so closely tied to Drudge. I would think he would realize that tying himself to Drudge undermines his credibility as a real journalist. My (tongue in cheek) theory is that Drudge has some juicy stories on Halperin and is forcing Halperin to do all this to keep him quiet.

ACLU Calls for Overhaul of Aviation Watch Lists in Wake of “60 Minutes” Report

The American Civil Liberties Union called today for the government to shut down its current, fatally flawed aviation watch lists and instead focus on known threats to aviation. The call came in response to a “60 Minutes” report on the matter scheduled to be aired on CBS this Sunday.

“Aggrieved citizens have been complaining about these problems for half a decade now, and the government still has not found a way to make these lists effective and fair,” said Barry Steinhardt, Director of the ACLU’s Technology and Liberty Project. “Enough is enough. Until the government can figure out a way to create a real list of genuine terrorists, they are hurting Americans instead of protecting them.”

60 Minutes” actually obtained a copy of the secret aviation watch list and was able to examine it. According to a CBS written report and excerpts from the upcoming “60 Minutes” broadcast, the list:

  • includes numerous names of people who are dead, in prison, or are international dignitaries, such as the president of Bolivia;
  • includes numerous common names such as “Robert Johnson;”
  • contains 119,000 names (44,000 on the “no-fly” list and 75,000 on a “selectee” list of people who are given extra security); and
  • has resulted in many ordinary, innocent individuals being pulled aside and interrogated, sometimes for hours, nearly every time they go to the airport.

CBS also echoed the fact – long pointed out by the ACLU – that on top of all these problems, the list does not even include the names of many of the worst suspected terrorists because the security agencies do not want to share them outside the government. For example, the suspects in the “liquid bomb” plot in the United Kingdom earlier this year were not on the list even though they had been under surveillance for over a year.

“These lists are virtually worthless. They don’t contain the names of the greatest threats to aviation and are bloated with tens of thousands of names that result in hundreds of thousands of innocent Americans being repeatedly delayed or denied the chance to fly,” said Tim Sparapani, an ACLU Legislative Counsel. “Until Homeland Security can figure out a way to create a genuine, narrow, targeted list of real terrorists rather than harming innocent people, Congress needs to shut this monstrosity down.”

“This bloated disaster is the worst of both worlds for Americans,” Steinhardt added. “Americans are losing their privacy and losing their right to travel, with no due process protections for innocent people who are caught up by it – and it’s all for nothing since these lists are doing little to make us safer.”

Olbermann Comments on Bush’s Lies

Once again, while most of the news media is asleep, Keith Olbermann has said what needs to be said. In his latest special commentary, Olbermann responded to George Bush’s latest lies told in a speech in Colorado:

There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

But he still says so.

There was no link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaida.

But he still says so.

And thus, gripping firmly these figments of his own imagination, Mr. Cheney lives on, in defiance, and spreads—around him and before him—darkness, like some contagion of fear.

They are never wrong, and they never regret — admirable in a French torch singer, cataclysmic in an American leader.

Thus, the sickening attempt to blame the Foley scandal on the negligence of others or “the Clinton era”—even though the Foley scandal began before the Lewinsky scandal.     

Thus, last month’s enraged attacks on this administration’s predecessors, about Osama bin Laden—a projection of their own negligence in the immediate months before 9/11.

Thus, the terrifying attempt to hamstring the fundament of our freedom—the Constitution—a triumph for al Qaida, for which the terrorists could not hope to achieve with a hundred 9/11’s.

And thus, worst of all perhaps, these newest lies by President Bush about Democrats choosing to await another attack and not listen to the conversations of terrorists.

Full text under the fold, and video here.

Sci Fi Friday

The big news remains the return of Battlestar Galactica tonight, but there’s still a few other things worth mentioning until it airs tonignt. Lost also returned this week, leaving more questions than answers, as would be expected. The trick with a show of this nature is to see how long they can stretch out the questions without frustrating the viewers so much, or winding up as the X-Files did where the story made less and less sense the longer they dragged it on.

I guess I should check out Heroes (which I have recorded but have not watched yet). Apparently it is doing well in the ratings and NBC has picked it up for the full season. That’s just one of the shows I’ve recorded but have not watched as I attempt to avoid wasting time on shows which wind up dying quickly.

One show which died too quickly was Firefly. There have been a number of rumors lately of a sequel. Over the past week there have also been references to a statement by Joss Whedon that there will be no sequel. Checking his actual post, it appears that nothing is in the works now, but he certainly does not close the door to the possibility. Whedon writes that if “something actually happens, whatever it is, you guys know I’ll be on this site as soon as I’m allowed to be. And I’ll be very very clear. There is no news. Not never, just now.”

William Shatner has been signed by ABC to host a new trivia game show, Show Me The Money. If they really want to make this a success, have him come on in his Denny Crane role. Speaking of Denny Crane, anyone else notice that, with the addition of Armin Shimmerman to Shatner and Rene Auberjonois, Boston Legal now has three former Star Trek stars on it? With all their off beat references, including one to Klingons by Shatner last sesason, maybe Boston Legal will have one of their attorneys cite the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition in court.

Scientists at the Niels Bohr Institute have brought us one step closer to the science of Star Trek:

Beaming people in Star Trek fashion is still in the realms of science fiction but physicists in Denmark have teleported information from light to matter bringing quantum communication and computing closer to reality.

Until now scientists have teleported similar objects such as light or single atoms over short distances from one spot to another in a split second.

But Professor Eugene Polzik and his team at the Niels Bohr Institute at Copenhagen University in Denmark have made a breakthrough by using both light and matter.

“It is one step further because for the first time it involves teleportation between light and matter, two different objects. One is the carrier of information and the other one is the storage medium,” Polzik explained in an interview on Wednesday.

Time to beam out of here.

Republicans Losing Evangelical Support

The Washington Post has a lengthy article on the loss of support for Republicans among evangelical voters (which I also discussed earlier this week). Ultimately evangelical voters may find that they have little to gain from supporting Republicans. While George Bush has thrown them more bones than most Republicans, the bottom line remains that what Republicans say to gain votes is quite different from what they do in office. 

The only thing which really matters to Republicans is using the power of government to enrich themselves. Just as Republican rhetoric about support for freedom, limited government, capitalism, and a strong defense has little relationship to their actual actions, there is no connection between Republican rhetoric in support of moral values and their actual conduct.  

While the Foley scandal has contributed to the drop in support for Republicans, this trend had started even before the scandal broke and can have important consequences for upcoming elections:

Even a small shift in the loyalty of conservative Christian voters such as Sunde could spell trouble for the GOP this fall. In 2004, white evangelical or born-again Christians made up a quarter of the electorate, and 78 percent of them voted Republican, according to exit polls. But some pollsters believe that evangelical support for the GOP peaked two years ago and that what has been called the “God gap” in politics is shrinking.

A nationwide poll of 1,500 registered voters released yesterday by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center found that 57 percent of white evangelicals are inclined to vote for Republican congressional candidates in the midterm elections, a 21-point drop in support among this critical part of the GOP base.

Even before the Foley scandal, the portion of white evangelicals with a “favorable” impression of the Republican Party had fallen sharply this year, from 63 percent to 54 percent, according to Pew polls.

In the latest survey, taken in the last 10 days of September and the first four days of October, the percentage of evangelicals who think that Republicans govern “in a more honest and ethical way” than Democrats has plunged to 42 percent, from 55 percent at the start of the year.

This trend has been influenced by the Foley scandal, opposition to the war among some evangelical voters, as well as additional factors reviewed in the article: (more…)

Muhammad Ali Endorses Granholm; DeVos Continues to Mislead


Muhammad Ali, who does not typically endorse political candidates, has endorsed Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm due to her support of stem cell research. Ali, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, backs Granholm for her support to lift the restrictions on embryonic stem cell research, while challenger Dick DeVos supports continuing the restrictions.

DeVos has been attempting to distract attention from his extremist social views by concentrating on the economy (whille refusing to provide any specifics of his economic plans). During the debate earlier this week, DeVoss attempted to hide his unpopular position in opposition to stem cell research by confusing his support for adult stem cell research for embryonic stem cell research which he opposes. Embryonic stem cell research is believed to have a much higher potential for leading to cures to problems such as Parkinson’s disease. In 2004 a majority of the Senate wrote George Bush requesting that he ease his restrictions on embryonic stem cell research (which are the same restrictions backed by Dick DeVos). DeVos’s position is even more extreme than the majority of the Repubican Party. If DeVos claims to be offering new leadership for Michigan, he should at least be honest enough to openly state his views rather than continuing to mislead to voters about his positions.