April 19, 2007

Big Bosoms And Square Jaws

Everyone knows that John Ashcroft was fully committed to fighting the all-crucial War on Porn. But what about Alberto Gonzales? He wasn't one of those porno-king sympathizers found so frequently on the Western left, was he? Hardly, Salon's Mark Follman reports today. Not only did Gonzales make adult obscenity a "top priority" for the Justice Department during his tenure, but two of those fired U.S. attorneys may have actually been sacked for being soft on internet nudity: Two of the fired U.S.

April 18, 2007

Bad Comedy

There's been some grumbling lately that Rich Little, scheduled to headline the White House Correspondent's Association dinner on Saturday night, is too boring and tame. In that spirit, check this out, from today's Times: His promotional biography says, "He's particularly fond of [imitating] Alan Ladd and other stars no longer typically remembered." Gotta love that "typically". --Isaac Chotiner

Court Upholds Abortion Ban

The Supreme Court upholds the ban on so-called "partial-birth abortions." Here's the decision. Anthony Kennedy turns out not to be the closet liberal many conservatives feared. Ruth Bader Ginsburg gets at the import of this: "For the first time since Roe, the Court blesses a prohibition with no exception protecting a woman's health." For more context, read this earlier piece by Scott Lemieux.

Dept. Of Let's Change The Subject

Rudy seems to get it, too. Here, in full, are his detailed ruminations on the Supreme Court's ruling today to uphold the partial-birth abortion ban: The Supreme Court reached the correct conclusion in upholding the congressional ban on partial birth abortion. I agree with it. --Adam B. Kushner

Young And Foolish

Today's New York Times carries a front-page story about Andrew Young, the former United Nations ambassador who is now a government lobbyist. Young's consulting firm, GoodWorks International, lobbies on behalf of both Nigeria and major industries that do business (or hope to do business) there. A Nigerian human rights lawyer and president of the West African Bar Association puts it best: "He is just here making money." Young is not new to controversy.

Never Again

Let's see what happens next but it is striking that George W. Bush chose to speak about Darfur today at the Holocaust Museum. And if the symbolism wasn't clear enough, the White House even issued a fact sheet entitled "Stop the Genocide in Darfur." At least the rhetoric is there. On the other hand, today's Times reports that a new U.N. report highly critical of the government also "says that rebel groups were also guilty of violating Council resolutions, peace treaty agreements and humanitarian standards," which presumably doesn't make solving the problem any easier. --Michael Crowley

April 17, 2007

The Decline Of Spin

So the EPA just released a report showing that greenhouse-gas emissions increased by about one percent in 2005. A few weeks ago, the government's latest Climate Action Report, which had to be leaked to the press, revealed that emissions will grow at the same rate in the coming decade as they did in the previous decade, if current trends hold. Back in the old days, the administration might've tried to suppress this stuff, or at least given it a decent spin. (Say, by pointing out that Europe's not doing much better, and pretending that that makes it all okay.) Something, anything. But no.

April 16, 2007

Small Pleasures

by Christine Stansell How bad can it get? Really bad. Ever since the U.S. attorney scandal started to heat up, it's been a pleasure to read the morning news. Last year this time, the initial suspicions and revelations would have flared up and died down in a couple of news cycles, one more blip on the outrage radar. It's not that the press is so much brighter--although they do seem to be waking up and shaking off the torpor (remember back when the White House press corps got a kick out of Bush's good-old-boy nicknames?). It's that the Democrats have the power to hold committee hearings.

More French News

by David A. Bell With less than a week to go before the first round of balloting, Nicolas Sarkozy is still the odds-on favorite to become France's next president. And one big reason is that, despite the gaffe I reported on last week, he is a remarkably impressive campaigner. In his speeches he is clear, persuasive, at ease, inspiring, and quite funny, often in a self-deprecating vein. In one of his recent appearances, he told his listeners that a few years ago he met a lady who told him, "I like you very much." Flattered, he asked her why.

The Deflating Showdown

There's a lot of hullabaloo over a forthcoming nasty constitutional showdown between Bush and congressional Democrats over the war supplemental, but it still may never get to that, with key anti-war Democrats acknowledging that they're likely to back down on the withdrawal deadline and Bush recognizing their constitutional right not to budge. Here's Armed Services chair Carl Levin (as reported in the Post): Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl M.