The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Well, they got Capone for tax evasion

Vice President Cheney has been cited for not having a hunting stamp required for non-residents to shoot birds in Texas.

One assumes he didn't have the proper license to shoot people, either, but that bit is still under investigation.

Also of interest: The Cheney supporter and fund-raiser who owned the property he was hunting on, Karen Armstrong, got a call from Karl Rove less than two hours after the accident:

"Chief of Staff Andy Card called the president around 7:30 p.m. to inform him that there was a hunting accident," a statement released today by the White House said. "He did not know the vice president was involved at that time. Subsequent to the call, Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove spoke with Mrs. Armstrong. He then called the president shortly before 8 p.m. to update him and let him know the vice president had accidentally shot Mr. Whittington."

If Card didn't know the Vice President was involved, why bother to inform the President? Who else was there? Or is Armstrong that big a contributor?

The day after that conversation, she spoke to the press. Josh Marshall found an older news item showing her father got Rove his first job, as well.

So I guess it's just a family affair.

Let's review what's going on here. Cheney shot another hunter, which is on its face his fault. The other guy was behind him—behind him—meaning Cheney spun almost all the way around before firing. Now the guy is just leaving intensive care with doctors saying they'll just leave some of the bird shot in his body because it's in too deep. And Cheney and Armstrong are blaming the victim.

It's never their fault, is it?

Maybe we should stop thinking of these people as adults. They're really 10 years old.

Tom Lehrer, meet Dick Cheney

Josh Marshall wonders about Dick Cheney's hunting accident Saturday:

At a minimum it seems a tad ungentlemanly to put out word through your media operation that the guy you just shot was at fault for getting shot.

But I don't know. Tom Lehrer wrote a song about it many years ago:

I always will remember,
'Twas a year ago November,
I went out to hunt some deer
On a mornin' bright and clear.
I went and shot the maximum the game laws would allow,
Two game wardens, seven hunters, and a cow.

Anyway, this flap about whether the guy Cheney shot was to blame or not obscures discussion of the truly culpable party. I mean, who gave that man a gun in the first place?

The Washington Post has more.

Washington snowed in

Washington today is getting its biggest snowstorm in three years:

A major snow storm pounded the Washington region overnight and this morning, dumping 20 inches of heavy wet snow in some locations and 8 or 9 inches elsewhere, causing power outages for nearly 200,000 consumers and disrupting travel by road, air and Metrorail.

And in a later story:

The snow swept in lazily yesterday afternoon and was expected to depart by midday today, giving residents ample time to dig out before the start of the workweek. Airlines canceled scores of flights. But schools and most workplaces were already closed, and it was too soon for most to make decisions for tomorrow.
As of 10 p.m. yesterday, reports to the National Weather Service ranged from four inches in Fairfax City to two inches at Camp Springs and less than an inch at Reagan National Airport. Most main roads glistened with moisture, but some were slush-streaked; medians were white.

I was actually in Washington for the 2003 storm. Not intentionally; I was on my way back to a client in Richmond, Va., from a party in New York and got stranded in DC for two days. This is partially because, at the time, the Commonwealth of Virginia (area: 110,771 km², 42,769 mi²) had almost exactly the same number of snowplows as the city of Chicago (area: 1,214 km², 469 mi²). And in 2003, Virginia got hit with 13 snowstorms to Chicago's two. This may prompt a longer entry on tax policy and the division of private and public responsibilities for snow removal, but not right now.

Anyway, here's what the city looked like on 17 February 2003, and what it will probably look like tomorrow:

Zorn on the Danish cartoons

Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn makes some good points about the Jyllands-Posten cartoons in his blog today:

[S]ome of the drawings make a point in exactly the same way that any good editorial cartoon makes a point, and they have a grown-up, even sophisticated purpose: To challenge those who use intimidation to block free expression and those who find in their religious texts justification for mass murder. Specifically, Jyllands-Posten commissioned the cartoons to make a defiant statement after learning that several Danish artists had refused to illustrate a children's book about Muhammad because they feared reprisals from Muslims who consider images of their prophet blasphemous.

I think all civilized people agree that cartoons are not justification for murder. The reverse of that statement is also true: all people who agree that cartoons are justification for murder are not civilized.

Two stories more connected than they appear

First, House Majority Leader John Boehner is renting an apartment from a D.C. lobbyist:

Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), who was elected House majority leader last week, is renting his Capitol Hill apartment from a veteran lobbyist whose clients have direct stakes in legislation Boehner has co-written and that he has overseen as chairman of the Education and the Workforce Committee.
The relationship between Boehner, John D. Milne and Milne's wife, Debra R. Anderson, underscores how intertwined senior lawmakers have become with the lobbyists paid to influence legislation. Boehner's primary residence is in West Chester, Ohio, but for $1,600 a month, he rents a two-bedroom basement apartment near the House office buildings on Capitol Hill owned by Milne, Boehner spokesman Don Seymour said yesterday. Boehner's monthly rent appears to be similar to other rentals of two-bedroom English basement apartments close to the House side of the Capitol in Southeast, based on a review of apartment listings.

I mean, come on. Pretend to have a little distance.

Second, due to Administration budget cuts (part of their effort to reduce people's faith in the federal government), the National Transportation Safety Board can't do its job:

Last year, the agency's accident investigators showed up at 62 percent of all fatal plane crashes, compared with 75 percent of all fatal crashes in 2001, according to NTSB numbers. But data from the Federal Aviation Administration—which is required to send an investigator to every accident and take note of whether the NTSB is on the scene—indicate that NTSB investigators showed up less than half the time last year.
"The consequences are, you're going to miss some things," said Gene Doub, a former NTSB accident investigator who teaches at University of Southern California. "Every one of these are not just dumb pilots. Some are airspace-system or training issues or airworthiness issues."

So once again, budget cuts have real consequences. The NTSB is one of our most important federal agencies—at least, if you ever get into an airplane, car, train, or ship—and needs enough money to do its job.

What's it going to take before we undo the Republicans' gutting of our government?

Drowning the suit puppy in the bathtub

George Deutsch, the suit puppy who wanted to tell NASA scientists about science, has resigned:

George C. Deutsch, the young presidential appointee at NASA who told public affairs workers to limit reporters' access to a top climate scientist and told a Web designer to add the word "theory" at every mention of the Big Bang, resigned yesterday, agency officials said. Mr. Deutsch's resignation came on the same day that officials at Texas A&M University confirmed that he did not graduate from there, as his résumé on file at the agency asserted.

Oops.

McCain lies about my man Barack

There was a dust-up between Senators Barack Obama (D-IL) and John McCain (R-AZ) today, in which McCain mistook integrity for mere politics:

"I'm embarrassed to admit that after all these years in politics, I failed to interpret your previous assurances as typical rhetorical gloss routinely used in politics to make self-interested partisan posturing appear more noble," the Arizona Republican said in a letter to Obama. "Please be assured I won't make the same mistake again."
In response, Obama sent a letter back to McCain, saying he was "puzzled" by McCain's reaction and insisting he still supported a bipartisan approach to ethics reform. "The fact that you have now questioned my sincerity and my desire to put aside politics for the public interest is regrettable but does not in any way diminish my deep respect for you, nor my willingness to find a bipartisan solution to this problem," Obama wrote.

(Obama has published the entire exchange on his Website.)

Only, once you read the Republican proposal (that would limit the actions of lobbyists) and the Democratic proposal (that would actually address earmarks and other abuses of power), it's hard to fault Obama from not joining the majority.

Plus, McCain's is a peculiar criticism, since Obama never actually committed to anything. Instead, he declined to support the Republican proposal, which is totally different.

Josh Marshall adds a good political perspective:

But the key here to note is what's behind this dust-up. Obama is a rising star among the Democrats. Republicans want to lay a backstory for feature criticisms and character attacks against him. So, for instance, if Obama is the vice presidential candidate in 2008, they want to have a history of attacks on him banked, ones that allege he's a liar, or too partisan, or untrustworthy, whatever. It doesn't even really matter. What matters is that there already be an established history of them. Point being, that in early 2008, they want to be able to simply refer back to Obama's 'character issue', the questions about his honesty, etc. rather than have to make the case on its merits.

McCain v. Obama in 2008? Now that would be a good race.

Disclosure: I contributed time, money, and—no kidding—coffee to the Obama primary and general campaigns in 2004.

Exactly the wrong way to govern

The Bush Administration (1077 days, 17 hours left) released its 2007 budget proposal today, which will cut or reduce 141 programs, including Medicare (down $36 billion), the drug-free schools initiative (axed), law-enforcement grants to help local jails house illegal immigrants after arrest (axed), Amtrak (down $300 million, or 25%), Employment and Training (down $648 million)...and on and on.

Remember, the Administration wants to cut the Federal government down to the size at which they can "drown it in the bathtub." Part of that strategy involves cutting programs, then using the resulting disaster (Katrina, anyone?) to "prove" that government programs "don't work."

Imagine if your kid gets Bs in school, then cuts studying 20%, then gets Cs, which prove studying "doesn't work." You'd ground his butt, wouldn't you?

The Administration thinks Americans are stupid. Let's prove them wrong.

What's in a name?

There's a big flap up the street from Inner Drive Technology World HQ about Northwestern University engineering professor Art Butz, a holocaust denier. Seems Butz merrily burbled to an Iranian newspaper as part of the latter's reporting on the Iranian president's burbling on the same theme.

The University's response was immediate and strong:

Northwestern University President Henry Bienen said Monday that [Butz'] recent comments denying that the Holocaust happened are "a contemptible insult to all decent and feeling people" and an embarrassment to the university.

Actaully, I think they're just an embarrassment to Butz, and I would urge Northwestern students to give him all the respect due a nutter like him. But the University is a place of learning and openness, and that means tolearance, even in the face of stupidity.

Plus, Butz probably formed those views—or the appearance of them—as a way of acting out against the ridicule he suffered as a child for his name. His parents, Dick and Connie Butz, did what they could, but you know...

And why am I attacking this man in the puerile and juvenile fashion of Ann Coulter? I don't rightly know. It's early, I haven't had enough coffee, and I guess some views really do require a lower form of ridicule, consistent with their intellectual honesty.

The Daily Northwestern reports:

Prof. Peter Hayes, chairman of NU's German department. Hayes, who teaches History of the Holocaust, describes Butz as "a crank and a fool."
"I just hope people will not overreact to this," Hayes said. "He loves the attention and why should we give it to him? This is how he publicizes his crazy views and we should just treat them with the contempt they deserve."

I don't think taking out a full-page ad in the Daily Northwestern is really required, for the same reason I don't think engaging Ann Coulter in any form of debate is required. As my friend Cameron says, "The thing about wrestling with a pig is, you both get dirty, but the pig likes it."