Tuesday, January 31, 2006


Anti-Immigration Folk Really Crack Me Up

They whine until the cows come home about Those Dirty Mexicans taking their jobs. And then they turn around and shop at Wal-Mart. At least the Mexicans picking your crops and working the kill floor in the slaughterhouses are going to be spending their wages in the communities where they earned them. Many of them even pay taxes, which is more than can be said for many of the anti-immigrant crowd. Whereas money spent at Wal-Mart mostly goes to the Walton heirs and to the Chinese companies using slave labor to drive America's manufacturing base into the ground.

Monday, January 30, 2006


The Backdoor Draft: When Janissaries Just Aren't Enough

50,000 Americans serving in Iraq have just been told that unlike what was implied when Bush posed in a flight suit on an aircraft carrier nearly three years ago, their mission really isn't accomplished:

The U.S. Army has forced about 50,000 soldiers to continue serving after their voluntary stints ended under a policy called "stop-loss," but while some dispute its fairness, court challenges have fallen flat. The policy applies to soldiers in units due to deploy for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The Army said stop-loss is vital to maintain units that are cohesive and ready to fight. But some experts said it shows how badly the Army is stretched and could further complicate efforts to attract new recruits. "As the war in Iraq drags on, the Army is accumulating a collection of problems that cumulatively could call into question the viability of an all-volunteer force," said defense analyst Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute think tank. "When a service has to repeatedly resort to compelling the retention of people who want to leave, you're edging away from the whole notion of volunteerism."
Bush is willing to use being "at war" to justify these soldiers' sacrifice. But he'll be damned if he gives up his billionaire tax cuts -- even though no president besides him has had the gall, not to mention the idiocy, to promote tax cuts for the rich when those who aren't rich pay the ultimate price in faraway lands.

Sunday, January 29, 2006


The Warner Janissary Compensation Act Passes

The first janissary units comprised war captives and slaves. After the 1380s Sultan Selim I filled their ranks with the results of taxation in human form called devshirmeh. The sultan’s men would conscript a number of non-Muslim, usually Christian, boys – at first at random, later, by strict selection – and take them to be trained. In later centuries they appear to have favored essentially Greeks, Albanians, Romanians, Serbs and Bulgarians. --Wikipedia Congress has granted unusual authority for the Pentagon to spend as much as $200 million of its own budget to aid foreign militaries, a break with the traditional practice of channeling foreign military assistance through the State Department.... it has drawn warnings from foreign policy specialists inside and outside the government, who say it could lead to growth of a separate military assistance effort not subject to the same constraints applied to foreign aid programs that are administered by the State Department. Such constraints are meant to ensure that aid recipients meet certain standards, including respect for human rights and protection of legitimate civilian authorities. --Bradley Graham in the Washington Post Centralization of power, less accountability of the military to civilian oversight, more use of mercenaries. Didn't Rome encounter some problems with that?

Let The Games Begin

It looked to me that Roy Blunt had managed to get the upper hand over John Boehner in the race to replace Tom DeLay as Republican (and therefore House) Majority Leader. (It looks that way to some other folk, too.) But I'm guessing that Boehner's people haven't given up just yet -- which would explain the sudden appearance of this little tidbit: The Raw Story and Roll Call reveal that a major contributor to Blunt -- a man who prides himself on his ties to the religio-racist Anti-Sex League right -- is a "world-class phone sex operator". And of course Blunt has no intention of returning the money. Let that be a lesson to those silly Democrats who now act as if Indian tribes, and not Jack Abramoff, are the providers of dirty money: The REALLY guilty ones almost never give it back. Speaking of Jack Abramoff: Blunt's enemies aren't the only ones who've been beating Blunt up. He's shot himself in the foot at least once, when he went on FOX News and was caught lying about his Abramoff connections:

This morning on Fox, Blunt was asked about the fact that his political action committees have paid $485,000 to the Alexander Strategy Group, the lobbying firm at the heart of the DeLay-Abramoff corruption scandals. Blunt responded, “I’m pretty sure that…figure is absolutely not accurate.” Actually, it’s precisely accurate. From a Public Citizen report released Friday:
Ten of Blunt’s biggest contributors have hired ASG as their lobbying firm. Blunt’s committees paid ASG $485,485 since 1999 for fundraising and consulting services. ASG’s clients, meanwhile, have funneled $581,866 into Blunt’s committees.
Blunt spokeswoman Burson Taylor was asked to respond to the report by the Washington Post. She dismissed the findings as “a rehash of old charges," but apparently did not challenge their accuracy.
And of course Blunt's people aren't letting the oppo grass grow under their feet. A WaPo article out today is entitled "Controversial Industries Have Backed Boehner". Watching Republican infighting is such fun. Pass the popcorn!


The Kremlin Watch: Newsweek identifies scapegoat

The latest Newsweek piece (co-authored by the odious Stuart Taylor) is a classic for Kremlinologists. The basic storyline is something like "Real conservatives opposed Cheney overreach on civil liberties. Sacrificial goat: Addington." To reduce it to its basics: * James Comey, resigning as Deputy AG, is a good guy because he looks like Jimmy Stewart. Notwithstanding his jaw-dropping position on Padilla (courts don't tell presidents what they can do), * Comey's staff warned him Bushco was treading into illegality, and they paid a price, * For Assistant AG Jack Goldsmith, that price was taking perhaps double the salary to teach at Harvard Law, * Comey is the good guy who appointed Patrick Fitzgerald, * We know he's a good guy because he withdrew the torture memo (after it leaked to The Washington Post), * None of the heroes were career civil servants. They were conservatives, * The bad guy was David Addington, a Rasputin with a volcanic temper and an ominous love for gazpacho, * His sidekick was John Yoo, conveniently now moved on to a tenured position paying beaucoup bucks, * Patrick Philbin, another good guy despite co-authoring the Yoo torture memo, was denied the chance to become Deputy Solicitor General in the most corrupt administration in history and is now moving on to the private sector, where Bushco will doubtless find a way to pay him enough to keep his mouth shut, [I know that my colleagues admire Patrick Fitzgerald. I am more skeptical, and suggest we hold the admiration until we see what he produces in the most important case he's ever likely to prosecute. Also, Newsweek did get around to mentioning that Bush and Cheney were the motive forces behind the illegality, but since they buried their inculpation of Dick and George deep in text and inside parentheses where no one reads, I'll similarly bury my exculpation of Klaidman, Taylor, and Thomas from the charge of being complete tools.] You know you are in the Twilight Zone when you read statements like, "[The] carefully worded opinions [of the Office of Legal Counsel] are regarded as binding precedent-final say on what the president and all his agencies can and cannot legally do." Apparently Newsweek has never heard of the Judicial Branch of Government. Or this: "Perhaps inevitably, however, 'coercive interrogation methods' spread from Guantanamo Bay, which housed terror suspects, into prisons like Abu Ghraib, where detainees could be almost anyone." As the Taguba Report makes plain, the Pentagon ordered coercive interrogation methods, and they "spread" because Jeffrey Miller was dispatched to spread them. As the Alfred McCoy interview I linked below says, torture has been a calculated part of US official policy since the 1950s, kept to the margins most of the time, but always available for use in Third World countries that lack a vigorous independent media. "Reasoning that there was no time to obtain warrants from a secret court set up under FISA (a sometimes cumbersome process)..." This is a lie, and Stuart Taylor should be ashamed to have his name attached to it (obviously he's not). As everyone knows, FISA is just fine with post-dated warrants (to enroll in a law course on the legality of post-dating, try post-dating your mortgage payment.) James Goldsmith and the unnamed others in this story may have done their jobs. For this, they got a paycheck. But anyone who goes from one job to a higher paying one while spending two years saying that, well, torture is not such a bad thing is not my idea of a hero. Based on absolutely nothing [*] besides the tone of this article, one would predict that Addington is being set up to be the next indictment in the Plame case. Maybe yes, maybe no, but this definitely looks like a show trial pre-game warm-up. [*] There's also this this: "Addington was referred to by job title in the indictment of Libby on Friday, and appears likely to be called as a witness should Libby’s case go to trial."

When News Lies

Danny Schecter, former producer for CNN and ABC News, is calling the GOP/Media Axis on their lies. And having fun doing it, if this is any indication.

Saturday, January 28, 2006


A reminder:


Why poison him when you can use Ann Thrax?

One never knows what one will drudge up from the bottomless cesspit of the far right. Today, Ann Coulter was reported to have said this: "We need somebody to put rat poisoning in Justice [John Paul] Stevens' creme brulee...That's just a joke, for you in the media." I don't get what's funny about John Paul Stevens drinking creme brulee. As for the rest of it, it fits the essence of present attempts at a legal definition of terrorism: "in at least 109 definitions of terrorism, and finds that, in rank order, most definitions emphasize goals (political), purposes (fear), targets (victim reactions), and methods (combat strategy or tactic." Check, check, check, and check. Not that I expect that the Department of Homeland Security can take time off from watchlisting four year olds or wiretapping Quaker grandmothers to explain this point to Ms. Coulter.

Friday, January 27, 2006


Diane Wilson: An angel within.

One of the things that most rankles me about many fundamentalist Christians is their attitude toward prisoners. Now, prisoners are not a bucket of grins. Many of them are mentally ill. Many are manipulative, even sociopathic. Some are violent. And some are completely innocent. Self-professed Christians who wish harm on "criminals" should reflect on this: Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. --Matthew 25 Jacob's son Joseph was a prisoner. The prophet Jeremiah. Paul and Silas. St. Peter. Jesus. And now Diane Wilson Much like Susan McDougal, she is taking her time in jail as one more moment in which to love justice and do mercy. Consider what she reports about the Victoria County jail: * Inmates, most of whom are poor, have no idea what normal jail procedures are, much less whether they have any rights at all. * Inmates have legitimate grievances but have given up on filing them. * Access is not granted to the law library. * Inmates are denied access to lawyers, often until 10 minutes before trial. * Denial of healthcare is routine, but is often also used as punishment. For example, an inmate with gallstones was allowed to suffer until her gallbladder burst. A woman suffering kidney failure was denied treatment even though the jail knew she could die. A pregnant woman, who was suffering from uterine bleeding was incarcerated despite official orders that she not be. She began a breech labor. Instead of being given medical treatment, she was threatened with tasering. The baby arrived, but died due to the delay in medical treatment. The mother was handed her dead baby. This is a woman's jail. Men's jails are much worse. Some of the people in those jails are innocent. None of them deserve to be treated cruelly. Victoria County jail, at least, has an angel within.

Friday Cat Blogging


I double dog dare you...

...to listen to the interview of Professor Alfred McCoy (U. WI, Madison) on torture. (Click Save As to download or go to flashpoints.net; McCoy interview starts at about 12:10) I thought I knew what there was to know about the topic. I was wrong. Or you can buy the book.

The Abramoff Investigation: Killing it Softly

Shenon and Bumiller of the NYT The investigation of Jack Abramoff, the disgraced Republican lobbyist, took a surprising new turn on Thursday when the Justice Department said the chief prosecutor in the inquiry would step down next week because he had been nominated to a federal judgeship by President Bush. The prosecutor, Noel L. Hillman, is chief of the department's public integrity division, and the move ends his involvement in an inquiry that has reached into the administration as well as the top ranks of the Republican leadership on Capitol Hill.

More Things The US Media Won't Tell You About

Once again, in order to find out what's really happening in my own country, I have to go to a UK newspaper: Al Gore, the movie, a festival hit

It does not exactly have blockbuster written all over it. The film is a documentary about Al Gore, the famously wooden vice-president and failed presidential candidate, wheeling his suitcases from town to town and presenting a slideshow about climate change.

Yet An Inconvenient Truth is getting standing ovations at the Sundance film festival in Utah this week. The festival guide describes the film as a "gripping story" with "a visually mesmerising presentation" that is "activist cinema at its very best". In Nashville, Mr Gore's home town, fire marshals had to turn away hundreds of fans trying to get into a screening.
Gee, I wonder why the GOP/Media Axis ignores the fact that Al Gore, the butt of their lies and ridicule for nearly two decades, is so wildly popular even in red states like Tennessee? Could it be for the same reason they ignore the fact that The Nation has far more subscribers than GOP-fluffing mags like The New Republic(an) or the The Weekly (sub)Standard? Or that one single lefty blog, DailyKos, has more traffic than all the blogs of the conservative blogosphere combined?


Most Americans: Bush Is A Failure -- And A Liar

Here's a poll that you won't be seeing Bob Schieffer or Brian Williams cite any time soon on the evening TV newscasts:

Jan. 26 (Bloomberg) -- A majority of Americans said the presidency of George W. Bush has been a failure and that they would be more likely to vote for congressional candidates who oppose him, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll. Fifty-two percent of adults said Bush's administration since 2001 has been a failure, down from 55 percent in October. Fifty- eight percent described his second term as a failure. At the same point in former President Bill Clinton's presidency, 70 percent of those surveyed by Gallup said they considered it a success and 20 percent a failure. [...] The percentage of Americans who called Bush ``honest and trustworthy'' fell 7 percentage points in the last year to 49 percent, the poll found. The new poll also found that 62 percent of Americans said they are ``dissatisfied'' with ``the way things are going'' in the U.S., unchanged from a December survey. The percentage of ``dissatisfied'' Americans reached its peak in October of 2005 when 68 percent of those surveyed agreed.
Okay, Democrats, here's your angle for everything: Whenever Bush opens his mouth on any subject, your Standard Response should be: "He's lied to us on Iraq, he's lied to us on Social Security, he's lied to us on terrorism, he's lied to us on why he's broken the law to wiretap honest American churchgoing Christian Quakers. What makes you think he's telling the truth now?" Repeat early and often. [UPDATE: Welcome, Daou Report readers! Beer is in the fridge over by the couch. Mind the cats and the dog. And while you're here, don't forget to check out the other fine posts in this blog. Thanks for coming!]


Filibuster Alito: Call the Republicans, Too

It may seem like a lost cause if your Senators are Republican, but give it a shot anyway. Tell them they should support an Alito filibuster for their own good. (Call the Senate switchboard at 1-888-355-3588 and ask for their offices.) Not only are their voice-mailboxes less full, but you can use this argument -- especially with the ones up for re-election in '08:

Dear Senator ___________: You might want to consider putting some daylight between yourself and Mister Thirty-Five Percent, especially when the Iraq casualties mount and our economy finally runs out of wiggle room. By this time in '08, Bush will be lucky to be at thirty-five percent. Even the corporate media will have turned on him. And not just over Iraq, either: The alleged "recovery" will be shown for the fraud that it is. Bush's fraudulent "boom" hasn't done diddly for average Americans -- we're back up to the same number of jobs as when Bush started office, but since we've added over seven million to the working-age population since then, the actual jobless RATE is UP -- and what new jobs exist are all of the "would you like fries with that?" variety. Meanwhile, with DeLay, Ney, Cunningham and the other K Street Projecteers losing their seats due to their corrupt and illegal chickens coming home to roost, being a Republican is going to be synonymous with "blundering Nixonian-style crook". Do you really want to be closely tied to all of that? I didn't think so. So you'd best start distancing yourself from him now. And the best way to start is with a vote against cloture on the Alito filibuster -- so that you can quiz him some more on his attitude towards Bush's illegal spying and backhanding of the FISA court. Yeah, Karl Rove will scream. Let him. By this time next year, Karl Rove will be going to the Federal pen. He won't be able to do too much to you now. And neither will DeLay or his equally-vulnerable successors.
Plant some seeds in their heads. Some of them may flower, given time.

Thursday, January 26, 2006


IRS: data don't exist even though everyone knows it does

If there was ever a case to prove how deep into dishonesty the nation has fallen, this is it. From Sidney Schanberg in the Village Voice, 1/17: David Cay Johnston [one of the last actual reporters at the NYT] disclosed hanky-panky by the IRS. Here is Johnston's lead: "Records showing how thoroughly the Internal Revenue Service audits big corporations and the rich, and how much it discounts the additional taxes assessed after audits, are being withheld from the public despite a 1976 court order requiring their disclosure, according to a legal motion filed last week in federal court in Seattle." First, the IRS insisted no such court order existed. How could that be? The IRS has been providing the litigant, Syracuse University professor Susan B. Long, with this very data for many years at no charge, based on the court order. (She makes the data available to the public on the Internet at trac.syr.edu.). She provided the IRS with a copy of the document. It doesn't matter, the IRS spokesman responded, we're denying the data anyway. Could it be that the rich-leaning Bush administration doesn't want the public to have access anymore to the proof of this giveaway? For the record, the president's speech was also silent on this news item.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


I'd Forgotten About This

Remember our old buddy, Randy "Duke" Cunningham, the war profiteer, nutjob, and bribe-taker? The guy whose ties to Tom DeLay may well prove to be yet another nail in Hot Tub Tom's political coffin? He's also got ties to some pretty unsavory folk, namely the pro-genocidal Serbian Unity Congress. (Yup, Milosevic's gang.) Then again, so do most of the most virulently nasty and racist Republican Senators and Congresscritters of the past twenty years. (Who could forget Helen Chenoweth? Nowadays, she seems almost quaint in her idiotic hypocrisy.) No wonder why they worked to undermine Clinton at every turn.


Pentagon: Army Near Breaking Point

We've known about this for quite some time, but it hasn't got much corporate media play until now. I suspect that the reason we're hearing about it is because some Pentagon staffers are aghast at Bush's saber-rattling towards Iran and/or Syria and want to nip that in the bud.


Thought Experiment

Representative Louise Slaughter joins the chorus of voices asking why Chris Matthews in particular (and the SCLM in general) keeps irrationally propping up Bush and bashing anyone in a position to expose Bush's blunders and crimes. Now of course, the standard GOP/Media Axis response is "But 9/11 changed everything!" Which is a lie, because they were fluffing for Bush and the GOP long before that date. In fact, I invite the reader to conduct a thought experiment: If 9/11 had happened in 2000 instead of 2001, would the GOP and their corporate media allies have rallied around Bill Clinton the same way they rallied around George W. Bush? Or would they have tried to impeach him a second time? Anyone who has studied the behavior of the US press and their GOP overlords over the past three decades knows the answer to these questions.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Scalia = Sleaze

When John Roberts was sworn in as Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, Antonin Scalia was conspicuous by his absence. He excused himself for this snub of his fellow justice (coincidentally the guy who got the job everybody knows Fat Tony wanted like a big wanty thing) by claiming he had a commitment he "could not break". Now we find out that the "commitment he could not break" was a tennis outing sponsored by the Federalist Society. Oh, it was called a "seminar", but the advertised purpose was a "rare opportunity to spend time, both socially and intellectually" with Scalia. We all know there's no way the Federalist Society will admit that it's a partisan organization, so we won't get any farther criticizing Fat Tony for this display of partisanship than we got criticizing his duck-hunting with Dick Cheney. But geez. It'd be nice if he had enough respect for his own exalted position to make an appearance at the swearing-in of a fellow justice for appearance's sake. I am getting so tired of these contemptuous villains openly showing their contempt for the institutions they control.


Turning Their Backs On Abu Gonzales

Patriotic Georgetown law students turn their backs on a known liar whose legal briefs would never have passed muster if he'd submitted them as course work. C-Span is covering it, Yahoo has plenty of pics, and I assume that Crooks and Liars will have the video soon as well. [UPDATE: This actually made the CBS Evening News! Good for Georgetown!]

Monday, January 23, 2006


44 Veterans Running as Democrats for Congress

The Fighting Dems Go get 'em!

Day of Judgment

If you read the following: Bush nominee broke law ...Federal law and the official Code of Conduct for U.S. judges explicitly prohibit judges from sitting on cases involving companies in which they own stock -- no matter how small their holdings -- in order to uphold the integrity of the judicial system. (Judges' financial filings typically don't differentiate ownership between the judge and immediate family members.) The clear-cut, objective standard aims to prevent even the appearance that a judge may be taking into consideration his or her personal financial interests...."There's no wriggle room here," says professor Stephen Gillers, a scholar of legal ethics at the New York University School of Law. "It's not just an ethics rule, it's a congressional statute -- a law." Even if he doesn't make any orders during the proceedings, he can't be the judge on such a case, Gillers says. "He's disqualified, period." who would you think they were talking about? My mind immediately jumped to Samuel Alito and his double dealing with Vanguard. But no, the quotation comes from a Salon article by Will Evans and refers to Judge James H. Payne, nominated to sit on the 10th Circuit out of Denver. The article makes it clear how widespread this form of corruption is in our judiciary. It doesn't excuse it. In fact, it boggles the mind just to imagine how many judges go to church/synagogue and read to the congregation the words of condemnation that the Bible has for judges who use their position to enrich themselves [*]-- and then leave church for the courtroom and heap judgment on their heads by their greed. If this article is corect, it is time for a lot of judges to resign. If they don't resign, they need to be impeached. Not for ideology, as Tom DeLay planned to do as part of his seizure of power, but for simple justice. They need to be replaced by people who don't enrich themselves by denying justice to others. [*] These verses are generally framed in the metaphor of dishonest balances, as in Amos 8, but in context speak of anyone who has enriches himself by pretending to be fair.

Land of Liars: Washington Post editor caught in mendacity

Thanks to Brad DeLong for checking the record and bringing a small and necessary piece of it out from behind the Select Wall protecting the Commentariat. On April 3, 2002,the late (and brutally murdered) NYT reporter David Rosenbaum wrote this about the Abramoff scandal: In the last six months of 2001, the Coushatta Indians, a tribe with 800 members and a large casino in southwest Louisiana, paid $1.76 million to the law firm of Jack Abramoff, a Republican lobbyist here. Last month, the Bush administration handed the tribe a big victory by blocking construction of a casino by a rival tribe that would have drained off much of the Coushattas' business. Now read this statement, from January 18th, 2006: Jeff Leen: You may be forgetting that the Abramoff scandal was broken by Sue Schmidt of The Washington Post in February 2004. Without that story, you would not have the Senate and DOJ investigations that have led to the charges and plea bargains in the case. It might be ok if Jeff Leen was some blogger. But Leen is not some blogger. He is the assistant managing editor of the Investigative Unit at the Post. Even allowing for title inflation, harmless product puffery, and the alarming tendency of paler residents of the Washington DC area to confuse cow manure for foie gras, this is out of bounds. This guy has to know of Rosenbaum's work. In fact, it is very likely what inspired some editor to say to Sue Schmidt, "Ya know, The Other Paper did something on this Abra...Abramovitz?... guy. Maybe we should, too." When newspaper rivalry arrives at the point where it erases a dead colleague from the memory banks, it's gone way, way too far. ------- Which reminds me: thanks to Phoenix Woman for bringing the DeLong post to attention.

Will This Get Mentioned In The US Press...

...without the reporters involved doing their damnedest to make the book's author look like an un-American looney tune? I doubt it. From the UK Independent:

... A book by an obscure American historian has shot into US best-seller lists after the elusive leader of al-Qa'ida endorsed it in an audio message aired last week. Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower by William Blum had languished below 200,000 on Amazon's top-seller list but stormed to 21 yesterday, with the online retailer struggling to meet demand. After issuing new threats to attack the US and calls for President George Bush to withdraw American troops from Iraq, Bin Laden then found time to "plug" Mr Blum's book. "If Bush decides to carry on with his lies and oppression, it would be useful for you to read the book Rogue State," he announced in his message relayed to a potential audience of billions via Arab satellite television. Mr Blum is a long-standing and fierce critic of the White House, laying scorn on Mr Bush and his predecessor, Bill Clinton. His 320-page book tears to pieces US foreign policy and its opening line reads: "Washington's war on terror is as doomed to failure as its war on drugs has been." Mr Blum has described the attacks on 11 September as "an understandable retaliation against US foreign policy", stopping short of calling that a justification. Once an employee of the State Department until his career was cut short after he led demonstrations against the Vietnam War, Mr Blum, 72, has been taken aback by his sudden celebrity. News networks in the US are clamouring to interview him. "The Washington Post refuses to publish my letters, but now they are coming to my house," he told reporters. [...]
It's at #41 on Amazon.com today. You can also get it from Blum himself.

_________________ Image added by Charles to illustrate a comment. The original source is Godchecker.com, a great site. The Goddess of Chaos:


The 2002 Abramoff Article Nobody's Cited Yet...

...besides Brad DeLong, that is. Could it be that it's because it makes it crystal clear that Abramoff was a Republican first and a lobbyist second?

Sunday, January 22, 2006


Publicly Financed Elections: David Obey Leads The Way

Check it out. Want to make Jack Abramoff and his K Street Project moot? Back the fine folks over at http://www.publiccampaign.org.


The much-maligned kangaroo

Eric Margolis Saddam Hussein's trial in Baghdad has become a circus. The presiding judge refuses to return to court, and defence lawyers have been murdered. What to make of this spectacle? Emotionally, it's good to see the tyrant who terrorized so many on trial for his life. But morally and legally, Saddam's trial is a travesty of justice. This is an old-fashioned Soviet-style show trial set up by U.S. occupation authorities. Its goal is not to determine Saddam's guilt or innocence, but to justify the U.S. invasion of Iraq -- which, by the way, was a blatant violation of international law.... If allowed to fully testify, Saddam would reveal the whole sordid story of America's long, intimate collaboration with his regime, and how the U.S. and British governments of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher encouraged, armed and financed Iraq to invade Iran. And speaking of kangarooing, what sort of media publishes this: Time has seen five photographs of Abramoff and the President that suggest a level of contact between them that Bush's aides have downplayed. but won't publish the photos? If Bush spent any significant amount of time with Abramoff, those photos are (a) in the White House archive, subject to FOIA, and (b) in the AP archive. That means that Time is sucking up to the White House by pretending that it can't get them. They'll publish them when enough people raise a fuss and pretend that they're giving in to public pressure. Meanwhile, take it easy on the much maligned kangaroo. They'd never hold a show trial of the kind that Vladimir Ilyich Bush is holding in Baghdad.

American Jews And Iraq

True or False: Most American Jews support Bush's actions in Iraq. Guess what? The answer is FALSE, as this American Jewish Committee link from last year shows. I found this out purely by chance today, talking with a American Jewish progressive activist. It pleasantly surprised me, because of the Jewish persons who I know from face-to-face meetings, and who are willing to speak out about Iraq, most of them are getting their notions of Iraq from Richard Perle's Jerusalem Post. (Then again, conservatives of all cultural persuasions tend to be more vocal than are liberals.)

Saturday, January 21, 2006


What Color Is Your Terror Alert?

Avedon Carol points out that, although Osama Bin Laden (via Al Jazeera) has just announced that al Qaeda has new plans for more attacks on the United States, the terror alert level has not been raised.

Osama announced on the radio that he had a big attack on the US planned, Bush/Cheney ignored it, 9/11 happened. Now Osama announces that he's got another attack planned, and I'm not being bombarded with terror alert crap. Makes me wonder if there's an interesting PDB on the way to the Oval Office. (No, it doesn't make me wonder if all the terror alert business is just political - I already know that.)
The most serious problem with the fact that the "war on terror" is nothing but a campaign issue for the Busheviks is that there really are threats out there that need a real response, not just a PowerPoint® presentation by Karl Rove. Remember how "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" ends.

Demolishing a 'Universal Health Care' Canard

[Bumped to the top by popular demand! --Charles]

Shrimplate demolishes the argument promulgated by opponents of health-care reform that providing universal health care will lead to infernal waiting lists for surgery. Short version: Those waiting lists in Canada that the opponents use to scare us are for elective surgery. There's no delay for emergency surgery. Really. You could look it up. Shrimplate also makes the point the opponents of universal health care want us to ignore:

Carping about wait times for surgery is ridiculous in light of the millions of uninsured here for whom the only waiting list is the one we are all on: to heaven's gates, with a stop at the E.R. to run up a bill first.


Priorities, Then And Now

Hmmmm. Now that the bloody-handed thieves and street thugs egged on by the US neocons have sent Haiti sprawling into chaos, the GOP/Media Axis isn't that interested in covering it -- unless it's to try and blame everything on Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the democratically-elected Haitian president whom they have now twice toppled despite his popularity among the common people. Media Matters' Jamison Foster looks at some other things the GOP/Media Axis won't report -- and some that they will report, ad nauseam. The media arm of the GOP/Media Axis likes to pretend that it's a neutral observer, when in fact it shapes the news.

Friday, January 20, 2006


Red Brigade Redux

I read the reports that Andrew Jones, Republican activist and president of the Bruin Alumni Association, was offering $100 rewards to UCLA students to "expose" professors who have leftist tendencies, and I immediately thought to myself, "Hmmm, where else have we heard about students being encouraged to rat on their professors for political incorrectness?"


Friday Cat Blogging


Spartacus on the cross

More troubling news out of Haiti. The monument to raising the flag on Iwo Jima is emblematic of everything good about American power. For anyone who cares about America, Haiti is a lingering monument to everything bad. In a brilliantly executed campaign in which the human love for liberty was sanctified will all too much Haitian blood, Haitian slaves successfully rose against their French overlords, defeating that military master, Napoleon: “The infantry were all but naked, and destitute of experience; their weapons were sticks pointed with iron, broken or blunted swords, pieces of iron hoop, and some wretched guns and pistols.” And Napoleon was very clear on why he was willing to invest so much French blood on a fever-ridden island thousands of miles from his native shore: “My decision to destroy the authority of the blacks in Haiti is not so much based on considerations of commerce and money, as on the need to block forever the march of the blacks in the world.” Beaten, Napoleon still exacted tribute from Haiti, a burden not lifted for 200 years, American slavers, and their descendants in the American South, hated and feared Haiti as a symbol of black resistance. In 1915, Woodrow Wilson sent General Smedley Butler into Haiti to beat the Haitians into submissiveness. (the above photo is from http:www.medalofhonor.com) Butler was so shamed by the experience, he later wrote: War is just a racket....It may seem odd for me, a military man to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent thirty- three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country's most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle- man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. And so Haiti remains ever Spartacus, a gentle people who love their freedom fiercely enough to suffer greatly for it... even doing great violence to one another in the process. In the latest, troubling word (please remember that until there is confirmation, these are allegations) about this ravaged land: UN Accused of Attacking Hospital Haitian police accused of summary executions

The tangled ties of white supremacism and anti-immigrant sentiment

There are good reasons to want to control border traffic. And there are very bad ones. Be sure not to miss Dave Neiwert's great series on the Minutemen at http://www.dneiwert.blogspot.com That is all.

Medicare, Then And Now

The StarTribune and Paul Krugman (via Atrios) have joined the lefty blogosphere's call for an honest probe into how the Republicans destroyed Medicare Part D just so their buddies could wring a few more bucks out of it. As the Strib says:

Leavitt's performance in implementing Part D should certainly be one focus of any hearings. Baucus and other experts warned HHS months ago that dual eligibles -- many of them confined to nursing homes, many with mental impairments -- would be highly vulnerable in the transition from Medicaid. Starting a month ago, governors began warning federal authorities that local pharmacists were reporting alarming gaps in coverage for these beneficiaries. But Leavitt shouldn't take all the heat, for the very legislation that created Medicare Part D in 2003 contained horrible strategic and design flaws. It's still worth asking why Congress insisted on turning Medicare's new drug benefit over to scores of private insurance companies, when Medicare had a documented record of lower overhead costs and higher customer satisfaction. Lawmakers should also ask why Washington will spend hundreds of millions of dollars to subsidize these private insurers, when the starting premise was that they would save the government money, and why several surveys have found that elderly patients pay more for their medications in the heavily subsidized Part D plans than they would at normal discounters such as drugstore.com. The Republican lawmakers who created Medicare Part D insisted that it would offer the best of both worlds -- a generous government subsidy combined with private-sector efficiency. Instead, it is proving a huge drain on taxpayers and a giant headache for elderly consumers, and is giving both the public sector and the private sector a bad name.
And here's The Shrill One:
At first, federal officials were oblivious. "This is going very well," a Medicare spokesman declared a few days into the disaster. Then officials started making excuses. Some conservatives even insist that the debacle vindicates their ideology: see, government can't do anything right. But government works when it's run by people who take public policy seriously. As Jonathan Cohn points out in The New Republic, when Medicare began 40 years ago, things went remarkably smoothly from the start. But this time the people putting together a new federal program had one foot out the revolving door: this was a drug bill written by and for lobbyists.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


Lies of our times

If you wrung all the manure out of that DoJ memo that Rawstory tells us is going to be used to defend the massive and illegal wiretapping of American citizens by the NSA and other agencies of the Pentagon, you could grow cotton in the Mojave. Let's stipulate a few things. 1. During real times of danger, the president does extraordinary things he believes are necessary for the national safety. Sometimes, as with the mass detention of Japanese, he is honestly wrong. We make restitution to those wronged and forgive him. 2. Genuine enemy combatants-- people caught with weapons-- can be detained for extended periods of time without due process of law under conditions prescribed in the Geneva Convention. Illegal combatants may not get the full range of protections, but neither may they be tortured or otherwise ill-treated. 3. It is not illegal to wiretap non-Americans talking to one another abroad without a warrant. But the DoJ clearly needs to understand a few things: * As Senate Leader Daschle said, the Congress narrowly authorized extraordinary powers against those who conducted the attacks of 9/11 and anyone reasonably believed to be conspirators either before or after the fact. * There is no evidence that elderly Quaker women protesting the Iraq war were in any way engaged in planning the attacks of 9/11. * The FISA statute arose out of Executive abuses. Calling out "FDR" like some kind of "Ollyollyollcomefree" is manure and the lawyers who wrote this *know* it's manure. * Presidential speeches do not have quite the same force of law as legislation passed by the Congress. * Ayman al-Zawahiri's statement that al Qaeda is "is spreading, growing, and becoming stronger," is not necessarily any more reliable than the belief that the Hidden Imam is due to arrive hand-in-hand with Jesus Christ any day now. * The Fourth Amendment better not have been lost in transit. I have a receipt, and it says that this is a right that God, not the government gave me. *The borders of the state of Maryland lie entirely within the United States of America. * No matter how many legal citations you use, you can't twist our law to make the president king. This DoJ memo is based on lies too big to fit into Texas; Alaska will have to accommodate them: the lie that all the intercepts were foreign domestic or domestic-foreign, that the only people intercepted were probably with al Qaida, and most especially the lie that the biggest threat to our freedoms is Osama bin Laden. That honor belongs to George W. Bush.

"The British policy is the American policy"

--Craig Murray, former British Ambassador to Uzbekhistan AMY GOODMAN: We only have ten seconds. But what has given you the courage to speak out? CRAIG MURRAY: I think it’s just what any decent person would do, I mean, when you come across people being boiled and their fingernails pulled out or having their children raped in front of them, you just can't go along with it and sleep at night. Unless you're a Republican, of course. Go read the interview and tell me that this is what you want people to think of when they hear the word "American." CRAIG MURRAY: Well, I found a country which lives in fear. There’s palpable fear in the place. It’s a totalitarian state. Effectively they haven't reformed much from the old Soviet system, and then they have added a new level of brutality and violence and an extra level of corruption to that. It’s a state where everyone is scared of their neighbor, where there are 40,000 secret police in the city of Tashkent alone. And the astonishing thing was it was a state where people were being disappeared and tortured on an industrial basis and which was being financed and organized by the United States of America.

Signs of the End of Days

Sometimes the imminent end of the world doesn't seem all so bad. Being one of the world's leading know-it-alls for all matters excluding sports and popular culture, I get a certain number of phone calls from Quadrant Zeta. This time the caller asked me if I were engaged in clinical trials for natural products. Smothering what might have otherwise been an ungracious response, I referred the caller to www.clinicaltrials.com and expected to be hanging up cheerily soon thereafter. Instead, I was treated to an absolutely mind-boggling display of medical ignorance, one of those full-on moments when all five pinballs are on the board, lights are flashing, and the score is reeling up as fast as the cogs can rotate. It was, for me, a clarion omen for our nation's future if the anti-intellectuals remain much longer in power. The caller was not drunk, or under the age of seven, or obviously mentally impaired. Just unbelievably stupid. Did you know that pharmaceutical products don't work because the people who make them are greedy? And because they are chemicals. Oh, yes, cortisone works when it's in the form of a Mexican yam, but it doesn't work when it's refined into a pill. And Premarin works because it is derived from mare's urine (indeed the drinking of urine is one of the oldest forms of natural medicine) but it causes cancer because... well, it's gross. Because I actually listen to people, even those who have given me cause, sworn and attested, to believe are idiots, I was able to track down where this moonshine comes from: a "Christian" right organization called LeSea., one of whose subsidiaries is called Making Healthy Choices. This is what makes a "health expert:" You can smile and say you are: Or, you can be a Tijuana doctor once involved in dosing desperately ill cancer patients with Laetrile The entire profession of medicine is just totally wrong! Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! Now, everyone should read and reflect on this because this is our nation's future. Since you couldn't spend 15 minutes with my Zetan caller, listen to the LeSea broadcasts. No advanced degree required.

Lil' Debbie Lies Again

Over in the comments section of Fire Dog Lake, Paul Lukasiak catches the WaPo's Deborah Howell lying AGAIN. She'll do anything to keep from admitting that the Abramoff scandal is a GOP one. (Which, again, is why they try mightily to avoid mentioning the K Street Project.)


The Fall of the American Empire

Larry Johnson has a great post up about why we failed in Iraq Spoiler warning: Pride brings down the mighty.

Drownie Admits He Didn't Exactly Do a Heckuva Job

Former FEMA Director Michael Brown admits he "fell short" in his response to Hurricane Katrina.

"It was beyond the capacity of the state and local governments, and it was beyond the capacity of FEMA," said Brown, former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Brown's remarks Wednesday stood in sharp contrast to his testimony at a congressional hearing in September, when he blamed most of the government's failures on Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin - both Democrats. He specifically targeted them for failing to evacuate New Orleans, restore order and improve communication.
File this mea culpa in the same "Too Little, Too Late" folder as that response. The damage is done, not just to the Gulf Coast and New Orleans in particular, but to the reputations of the Democratic politicians he blamed for the debacle. And what about that testimony? Was Drownie under oath? Or should he be nailed merely for lying to Congress, not for actual perjury?

Don't Talk About The K Street Project

Because as Eric Boehlert points out, it becomes a lot harder to pretend that the Abramoff scandal is "bipartisan" if you acknowledge that the K Street Project exists.


What Fourth Amendment?

Bush Administration wants Google records of searches

The Bush administration on Wednesday asked a federal judge to order Google to turn over a broad range of material from its closely guarded databases. The move is part of a government effort to revive an Internet child protection law struck down two years ago by the U.S. Supreme Court. [...] In court papers filed in U.S. District Court in San Jose, Justice Department lawyers revealed that Google has refused to comply with a subpoena issued last year for the records, which include a request for 1 million random Web addresses and records of all Google searches from any one-week period. The Mountain View-based search and advertising giant opposes releasing the information on a variety of grounds, saying it would violate the privacy rights of its users and reveal company trade secrets, according to court documents.
The most shameful aspect of this story is that "The government indicated that other, unspecified search engines have agreed to release the information." The next time you need to find some information on the Internets, which search engine will you use?

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


Why We Need A Truman Commission

During the midst of World War II, FDR wasn't afraid to carry out hard-hitting probes of war profiteers. The Truman Commission nailed a lot of bad operators in its day -- and the Democrat-controlled Congress let the chips fall where they would. Nowadays, massive corruption infests every level of the Iraq invasion and occupation enterprise. (In a way, this is appropriate, since the very idea was misbegotten from the start.) Nothing shows this better than the pungent comparisons made by Iraqi blogger Riverbend between the lightninig speed in which Iraq rebuilt itself after the first Gulf War, and the utter lack of progress at rebuilding Iraq in the three years since the US-led invasion. But so long as Republicans control Congress and the White House, the malefactors -- all of whom have financial ties to the GOP in general and to the Bush-Cheney Axis in particular -- will go unpunished. <>


Why the Democrats Must Filibuster Alito

Radio host Ed Schultz was going on today about how the Democrats can't filibuster Alito because the Democrats have to campaign on "cleaning up the culture of corruption. He told one of his callers, in so many words, that Alito and the Republican scandals are separate issues. There are times when I agree with Ed Schultz. This is definitely not one of them. Alito is a prime example of the Republican culture of corruption. He didn't see a problem with presiding over a case involving a company in which he had a large sum of money invested. By asserting that we shouldn't pay any attention to what he said when applying for a job with the Reagan Administration, he's admitted he has no principles. His "explanation" of his membership in Concerned Alumni of Princeton is blatantly dishonest. His judicial rulings show a callous disregard for everybody except the wealthy elite. Not only can the Democrats filibuster Alito without undermining their anti-corruption message, they must filibuster him to reinforce that message.


What Fourth Amendment?

The Vermont Guardian reports that children can't "opt out" of the Pentagon's recruitment database.

The Pentagon has spent more than $70.5 million on market research, national advertising, website development, and management of the Joint Advertising Market Research and Studies (JAMRS) database - a storehouse of questionable legality that includes the names and personal details of more than 30 million US children and young people between the ages of 16 and 23. [...] Parents must contact the Pentagon directly to ask that their children's information not be released to recruiters, but the data is not removed from the JAMRS database, according to Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke, a Pentagon spokeswoman. Instead, the information is moved to a suppression file, where it is continuously updated with new data from private and government sources and still made available to recruiters, Krenke said. It's necessary to keep the information in the suppression file so the Pentagon can make sure it's not being released, she said.
Got that? The Pentagon has to keep the data in its database to make sure they don't use it. Um, why not just delete it? Or keep only the name and unique identifier, to make sure the data miners don't put children back in the database after they're removed? Call me paranoid, but I sure would like to know what information the Pentagon is including in the database besides "names, addresses, Social Security numbers, and phone numbers, [and maybe] cell phone numbers, e-mail addresses, grade-point averages, ethnicity, and subjects of interest"; also with what government agencies this information will be shared (the Department of Homeland Security comes to mind). And how is it that the Pentagon can afford to spend "a total of $206 million on the JAMRS program to date, [and potentially] another $137 million over the next two years", but can't afford to provide adequate body armor for the troops it has already?

This Makes My Day...

...so of course the GOP/Media Axis will give it less coverage than, say, the latest ginned-up Hillary Clinton FauxGate: Eat it, Burnsie!

The Montana-Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council has rejected a $111,000 donation from the campaign of Montana Sen. Conrad Burns, with some saying the money is tainted because it originally came from lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his clients. James Steele Jr., also chairman of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, said Tuesday evening that the council voted not to accept the donation, which was made up of contributions from Abramoff, his associates and his tribal clients.
This is a nice way to fight the GOP's efforts to pretend that the Indians are the problem, instead of the victims, in the Abramoff scandal.


Don't Forget to Be Afraid!

Why is this news? Weapons found in car at U.S.-Canada border

Four weapons were found in a car after Canadian officials at a border crossing became suspicious of the driver, authorities said. The firearms — a 9 mm handgun, two shotguns and a rifle — were found in a car that had just passed through the Peace Arch border crossing at about 9:30 p.m., Royal Canadian Mounted Police said in a statement. RCMP initially said a device found in the car’s engine compartment was an improvised explosive device but later said it was not a bomb after an explosives team examined it. [...] The man, whose parents live in Oregon, was turned over to the Canada Border Services Agency, said Paula Shore, a spokeswoman for the agency. No criminal charges were planned and the man was expected to be returned to the United States, officials said. "It appears as though the male is suffering from a mental illness," Morrow said in the statement.
People do get caught trying to bring weapons into Canada. They're usually not smugglers, they're not terrorists, they don't intend to use the weapons; they're just stupid Americans who are used to taking their guns everywhere and don't consider that it's illegal to bring weapons across the border. When the people who get caught are, in fact, smuggling guns to sell in Canada, where are the headlines about those smuggling rings? This guy isn't even remotely suspected of having criminal intentions or terrorist connections. It's a routine border stop. Why is this news? Is it cynical of me to think that the purpose of reporting this nonstory is the headline? People who read the headline and don't read through the article may well jump to the conclusion that the guns were being brought into the U.S., not into Canada; that "guns" means a carload of smuggled weaponry; that, in fact, our Department of Homeland Security just saved us from a terrorist attack. I say it's fearmongering, and I saw the hell with it.

Blame The Victim: Or, How The GOP/Media Axis Tries To Escape The Abramoff Taint

Wampum Blog has been following this for months now, but this post is particularly pointed. The basic points: 1) The Republicans are trying to push the idea that All Indian Money = BAD Money. The more silly Democrats they can cow into giving up the cash, the better. 2) If being an Abramoff client (or victim) makes you evil, then why aren't Abramoff's non-Indian clients getting tarred with the Bad Money brush? Why only the Indians? 3) The GOP wants to pretend that this is about bad lobbyists and their Eeeeevil Indian Clients (who donate to Democrats!), when the real issue is how Abramoff used his lobbying firm and fake charities as a giant money-laundering machine that served as a key component of the K Street project.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


Give 'Em Hell, Harry!

Senator Harry Reid issued a letter with Senators Durbin, Stabenow, and Schumer, requesting that George Bush explain Jack Abramoff's visits to the White House. Remember that Harry Reid took on organized crime in Nevada and lived to tell about it.

The Justice Department is currently investigating the web of corruption surrounding lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Even at this early stage of the investigation, there is reason to believe that Mr. Abramoff may have had undue and improper influence within your Administration. There is no reason to wait for indictments or convictions before the American people learn of the role Mr. Abramoff played in the Bush White House. We therefore call on you to make public as soon as possible an accounting of Mr. Abramoff’s personal contacts with Bush Administration officials and the official acts that may have been undertaken at his request. Some of Mr. Abramoff’s ties to the White House have already been reported in the press. For example, it is well known that Mr. Abramoff was a prodigious Republican fundraiser who attained the rank of “Pioneer” after raising over $100,000 for the 2004 Bush-Cheney reelection campaign. You have returned $6,000 of that money, but have not answered the question of what benefits, if any, were extended to Mr. Abramoff on account of his Pioneer status. It has also been reported that Mr. Abramoff served as an adviser to your transition team and that you met with him personally. The American people have a right to know how many times you and senior staff met with Abramoff, and what benefits, if any, Abramoff received from this high degree of access. In addition, it has been reported that your Administration removed a federal prosecutor who was investigating Mr. Abramoff’s secret lobbying contract with court officials in the U.S. territory of Guam. Indeed, the prosecutor was replaced only one day after he issued a subpoena for records, and the case was subsequently dropped. The Guam public auditor has since concluded that territory officials paid Mr. Abramoff, via a third party, a total of $324,000 in smaller increments in an effort to circumvent the requirement of a sealed bid. Did the White House exert any improper influence on behalf of Mr. Abramoff in this case? Finally, David Safavian, who served as the chief procurement officer in your Administration, was recently charged with obstructing Senate and executive branch investigations into whether he aided Mr. Abramoff in efforts to acquire property controlled by the General Services Administration. Were other White House officials aware of Mr. Safavian’s ties to Abramoff, and did those ties play a role in Safavian’s appointment to a high-ranking Administration position? While the above-described connections between Abramoff and the Bush Administration have been reported, others remain unknown. For example, Americans have a right to more information about Abramoff’s role in the “K Street Project,” the initiative launched by Republicans in the1990’s to link lobbyists to Republican officials in Congress and the executive branch. What role did your Administration play in the K Street Project, and did White House officials have direct contact with Abramoff in this regard? In the upcoming State of the Union address, you will presumably call for reforms to address lobbying abuses. But such rhetoric will ring hollow until you reveal the ways in which Jack Abramoff himself may have improperly influenced your Administration over the past five years. As the leader of your party, you have the opportunity to set an example and call for openness and accountability from your fellow Republicans. The American people need to be assured that the White House is not for sale. Sincerely, Harry Reid Richard Durbin Debbie Stabenow Charles Schumer


The Latest GOP Anti-Clinton FauxGate Attempt...

...is to pretend that Hillary Clinton said something wrong and naughty when she -- in front of an enthusiastic Harlem crowd -- likened the GOP House to a plantation where dissent is not allowed. (Of course, no actual descendants of former slaves had any problem with her comments; in fact, Al Sharpton good-humoredly accused her of lifting the idea from his 2004 presidential campaign speeches.) If the word "plantation" is the problem, guess what? Republicans have referred to an imaginary "liberal plantation" for over a decade now. Think Progress has already found the Newt Gingrich citation. And I remember George Will and his conservative buddies invoking this mythical "liberal plantation" many times back in the 1990s. (Just Google GEORGE WILL LIBERAL PLANTATION -- or click here.)

Note: "FauxGate" is my term for the fake scandals that the GOP/Media Axis love to pin on Democrats, especially those with the arrogance to win elections.  Remember the "Clinton scandals" of the 1990s?  Whitewater, Wen Ho Lee, TravelGate, HaircutGate?  FauxGates, every one of them.

Nowadays, in order to distract from the very real Republican scandals -- Iraq, Frist, Abramoff, DeLay, Cunningham, TreasonGate, WiretapGate, MedicareGate, etc., etc. -- the GOP and their fellow travelers in the press scurry to invent FauxGates targeting Democrats.  

Lately, the FauxGates have featured Howard Dean or John Murtha.  But, in a sign that the GOP is nostalgic for the '90s just like everyone else, this week's FauxGate features Hillary Clinton.


Supreme Court Protects States' Rights Against Bush's DoJ

Supreme Court Affirms Oregon's Assisted Suicide Law

The Supreme Court upheld Oregon's one-of-a-kind physician-assisted suicide law Tuesday, rejecting a Bush administration attempt to punish doctors who help terminally ill patients die. Justices, on a 6-3 vote, said that federal authority to regulate doctors does not override the 1997 Oregon law used to end the lives of more than 200 seriously ill people. New Chief Justice John Roberts backed the Bush administration, dissenting for the first time. The administration improperly tried to use a drug law to prosecute Oregon doctors who prescribe overdoses, the court majority said.
It will not surprise you that the dissenting votes were Scalia, Thomas, and — yep, Roberts. The majority opinion delivered a dope slap to John Ashcroft. Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority:
...the "authority claimed by the attorney general is both beyond his expertise and incongruous with the statutory purposes and design."


Uncle Walter

Walter Cronkite says it's time to get out of Iraq. He was right when he said that Vietnam was "mired in stalemate", and he's right about Iraq. The big difference is that Bush can't say, as President Johnson did, "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost Middle America". But that's only because he never had Cronkite to begin with. Bush won't listen to the most trusted man in America, but let's hope the American people — and their representatives in Congress — still do.


When Even The Republicans Can't Stomach It Any More...

Dare I hope that BushCo is turning against itself? Considering that some of its key allies are part of the ACLU wiretapping lawsuit, one can only hope so. (And nice clarion call by our True President, Al Gore, by the way.)

Monday, January 16, 2006


Life's Little Ironies

Last month, a "new" academic study got some buzz for purportedly proving that the media do, indeed, have a liberal bias. The study, by UCLA political scientist Timothy Groseclose and University of Missouri economist Jeffrey Milyo, measured bias (in both directions) by comparing the media's citations of various think tanks and other quasi-political organizations with citations of the same organizations by members of Congress, and assuming that similar citations indicated similar politics: for example, if a liberal senator (as measured by the senator's rating from the liberal Americans for Democratic Action) cited an organization, it's a liberal organization; so if a media outlet cited the same organization, that indicates the media outlet is also liberal. No, I'm not making that up. But you don't have to rely on your lunacy detector to tell you the study is nonsense. Dr. Eric Alterman enumerates the ways the study itself is biased — not politically biased, but methodologically biased.

As a spokesman for the Dow Jones Company, publisher of the not-so-liberal-though-you'd-never-know-it-from-the-study Wall Street Journal, asks, "What are we to make of the validity of a list of important policy groups that doesn't include, say, the Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the AFL-CIO or the Concord Coalition but that does include People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals?" [...] For instance, the researchers looked at the news content of The Wall Street Journal's news pages — finding it the most liberal of the bunch — for a mere four months in 2002, while CBS News, which comes in as the second most liberal news organization, was studied for more than 12 years. One can't come to any other conclusion than that this huge discrepancy in length of study represents a major analytical flaw.... What's more, Time magazine was studied for about two years, while U.S. News and World Report was looked at over a period of about eight years. [...] But the oddest part of the study is that the authors ascribe ideological bias to reporters — and news organizations — for merely quoting experts in their pieces. For example, as Media Matters notes, the NAACP is the third most quoted group in the study, "But stories about race relations that include a quote from an NAACP representative are unlikely to be 'balanced' with quotes from another group on their list," due to the dearth of credible "pro-racism" groups in this country. So instead, "Their quotes will often be balanced by quotes from an individual, [and] such stories will be coded as having a 'liberal bias.'"
That's right, the study used a list of organizations that excluded some of the most influential and included the least reputable; surveyed news media for different lengths of time in differen periods of time; and, by ignoring citations of individuals, ascribed "imbalance" to instances where a liberal citation was balanced by a conservative. I think the technical term for this methodology is "cherry picking": considering only the data that support the conclusions you like. Who are these scholars who devised such a ... remarkable ... methodology for detecting bias?
In 2000-2001, Groseclose was a Hoover Institution national fellow, while Milyo has been granted $40,500 from the American Enterprise Institute; both were Heritage Foundation Salvatori fellows in 1997.
I wonder what rating the ADA would give to Messrs. Groseclose and Milyo, and what organizations they've cited in the course of their careers.

Things Spotted On A Mall Walk

On a recent mall walk in Hugedale (aka The Mall of America), I saw something that surprised the heck out of me: In a T-Shirt kiosk, there was a T-shirt design that, unironically, promoted Hillary Clinton for president in 2008. It wasn't an "official" shirt, either -- being that Hillary hasn't officially started her campaign yet. And it was in the sort of T-shirt kiosk that is usually apolitical. Now, I've been inclined to write off a Hillary candidacy as utterly hopeless, fueled by name recognition alone, much like Joe Lieberman's "front runner" status in early 2003 before Howard Dean kicked him to the curb. And her negative numbers are pretty high for someone wanting to be president. But I'll tell you what: All through 2003 and 2004, I'd never, EVER, seen any T-Shirt places that weren't run by the Lieberman campaign that were selling official Lieberman paraphernalia, much less any home-brewed stuff. She's not exactly who I'd pick to head the Democratic ticket (and not just because I don't think she could win -- I have serious problems with a lot of her DINOtastic stances), but she may not be the utter Liebermanesque boatanchor I was afraid she might be.


Dear Anonymous...

We have yet another anonymous coward posting about Samuel Alito. And claiming to be a liberal. And calling it left-wing extremism to criticize Samuel Alito. Some people with sixth grade orthography are deep thinkers. Mr. Anonymous Coward is not one of them. Here is a thread on which to debate whether Samuel Alito belongs on the Supreme Court... if you're man enough to do it. Personally, I doubt there's enough of a man there to mop the floors with.

Junk mail and junk government

Even if you don't respect the Constitution, Jay Bookman has a good column illustrating the practical problem with the NSA approach of massive surveillance. [T]he Internal Revenue Service offers a compelling case study in what it calls its Questionable Refund Program. Under this program, computer programs and data-mining techniques are used to sift through millions of tax refund requests and financial records, using the same basic approaches employed by the National Security Agency ...It's a useful technology, but according to a new government study, [46%] of the refund requests identified as fraudulent through IRS data-mining are actually honest and clean....Under IRS policy, tax refunds identified as fraudulent are immediately frozen, sometimes permanently, based on no evidence except that their return matches the computer profile. And because those frozen refunds on average amount to 25 percent of the taxpayers' yearly income, freezing those refunds "often impose(s) a severe economic hardship" on hundreds of thousands of Americans who have done absolutely nothing wrong." All of this was obvious from anyone who receives simultaneous requests from the DNC and the RNC to become one of their "committee chairman" (i.e., give them $1000 or more). If the vaunted free market makes enough mistakes to keep your mailbox full, guess what the government is likely to end up doing. If you guessed "refuse me one of the basic human freedoms, the right to travel," you win the seegar.

Plus ça change…

Credit the Bush Administration with one thing. They have managed to so tarnish the American image that South America is at last throwing off the vampiric embrace of the Monroe Doctrine. Today's successful nation: Chile Centre-left candidate Michelle Bachelet has become Chile's first woman president, taking 53.5% of the poll with almost all the votes counted. Vampiric? Well, consider how Bachelet got started in politics: Michelle Bachelet was a 23-year-old medical student in Chile when a gang of military men broke into her house and kidnapped both her and her mother, Angela Jeria. It was January 1975, and the Chilean secret police officers were crushing protests and eliminating civilians on the orders of military dictator Augusto Pinochet. Ms Bachelet, a popular and politically active student, was one of thousands accused of being an "enemy" of the new regime. "They put tape and dark glasses over our eyes. We couldn't see," Ms Bachelet recounted in her office in central Santiago. "They tortured me. They hit me. But they did not put me on the parrillada (metal table used to torture prisoners with electricity)." In a nearby room, her mother was similarly tortured and kept for nearly a week without food or water. "It was 30 days of total fear," said Elizabeth Lira, an expert on Chilean human rights. "Rape was frequent. Plus the punches, sexual abuse, denigration. They had very long interrogations and the use of electric current was common." Who proposed, coordinated, and backed the coup? The CIA. See page 5, "CIA focused on provoking a military coup." It's especially notable that this report claims that Allende was intimidating the press, threatening assassinations, etc., in response to a CIA propaganda program. Another point of interest was the fact that the CIA enlisted the US press in this propaganda campaign. I should make it clear. I don't think Allende was a great leader, nor do I think that Chavez is a great leader. But they were the leaders that the people of these nations chose in free and fair elections. We had no right to make their decisions for them. We call that "tyranny" when others try to do it to us.

Sunday, January 15, 2006


Robertson and Reed

NPR's Religio-Racist Right journalist, Barbara Bradley Hagerty (about whom more can be found here and here) did a short piece on the downfall of Pat Robertson last week in which she spun his spin-out as an alleged result of Ralph Reed's not being around to rein in his rhetorical excesses. It turns out that Ralph Reed has his own problems. Yupper, ladies and gentlemen: Ralph "Damien Thorn" Reed is up to his ears in the Abramoff scandal, and it's about to doom his attempt to run for lieutenant governor of Georgia. Awwwwww.


Laura Bush, Please Just Shut Up

It's supposed to be beyond the pale to criticize First Lady Laura Bush, because she's only a private person, never mind her frequent appearances representing the White House or supporting government programs and Bush policies. But every time she opens her mouth, what comes out is so appallingly ignorant that she desperately needs to be told to just shut up. Yesterday she outdid herself parroting White House talking points, saying things that are not merely banal but totally at odds with reality. She defended her husband's lawbreaking in the matter of warrantless surveillance:

"I think he was worried that it would undermine our efforts by alerting terrorists to what our efforts are," she said.
And exactly how, Mrs. Bush, would requesting a warrant before or after beginning the surveillance "alert the terrorists to what our efforts are"? Does your husband think that somebody on the top-secret FISA court would tell Osama that a warrant had been requested? She also defended the "ignorance is education" approach to sex education:
"I really have always been a little bit irritated by criticism of abstinence because abstinence is absolutely, 100 percent effective in fighting a sexually transmittable disease. When girls are not empowered, girls are vulnerable, and their chances of being able to negotiate their sexual life with their partners and to make their partner chose a condom are very low."
The criticism is not aimed at abstinence. The criticism is aimed at depriving girls and boys of information about other choices, like responsible use of birth control. Teaching them only one option is not empowering them; being unable to make informed choices is being powerless, not empowered. And oh by the way, abstinence may be 100% effective in preventing pregnancy and disease, but teaching abstinence is notable for its ineffectiveness in preventing teens over the long run from committing actions that results in pregnancy or disease. Check the statistics, Laura, I'm not just making these things up. I blame Laura Bush for these absurd pronouncements less than I blame the snooze media for asking the questions that elicited these answers. They ask her about policies and issues, and report her answers as if they mean something — worse, as if they're supposed to make us feel better about her husband being in the White House — at the same time that they go along with the charade that she's the anti-Hillary, all loyal wife and not a bit of politics about her. If it weren't for hypocrisy, these people would have no values at all.

The Media And Alito

It's fashionable among those who are looking for a pretext not to vote this year (when, as Dr. Dean says, voting is the least we can do) to attack the Senate Democrats over the Alito hearings. The truth is that, Biden aside, the Democrats did a good job of showing Alito's totalitarianism, racism, and Bush worship -- not to mention his intent to go after Roe v. Wade, either directly or indirectly. But you never would have known that if you had to depend on the "reporting" of the TV talking heads, such as Brian Williams, Gloria Borger, and Wolf Blitzer.

Saturday, January 14, 2006


Free Association

South Dakota air fleet gives Congress members free ride

Group W, owned by Poway defense contractor Brent Wilkes, has provided personal air transportation for some high-profile passengers – including House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, who has flown on the jet to such locations as Idaho for a hunting trip and Hawaii for a golf tournament. Although the flights may be legal, critics say they serve as prime examples of how federal contractors and lobbyists use travel and other perks to make friends on Capitol Hill.
Group W? Even though no direct connection is made to the #1 Congressional scandal right now, I just have to do this:
You can get anything you want At Abramoff's Restaurant.
Let's see how many Republican Congresscritters we can fit on the Group W bench.

Maybe we should just start drinking their blood directly

From the London Independent A three-year investigation into booming export factories for companies such as Marks & Spencer and Ikea discovered the human cost of China's "economic miracle". It found an army of powerless rural migrants toiling up to 14 hours a day, almost every day. Many were allowed just one day off a month and paid less than £50 a month for shifts that breached Chinese law and International Labour Organisation rules. I'm not sure why they call China "communist." It's monopoly capitalism not very different from our own Gilded Age (granted, we did hold elections. But it was dollar democracy-- one dollar, one vote): Companies are attracted to doing business in the People's Republic of China because of its low-tax development zones, cut-price abundant workforce, and totalitarianism. Independent trade unions are banned by the Communist Party. Assembly-line personnel in free-trade zones in south China operate machinery without safety guards and spray paint with inadequate face masks. ..."They were sharing 12 men to a room. Literally they had a box to themselves, like the boxes you see in the films of the concentration camps. The washing facilities were a cold water tap on a balcony. The wages were something like ... £1 a day." And the result? ...Figures published this week showed that China's trade surplus with the rest of the world more than tripled to $102bn (£58bn) last year, as its exports outstripped imports.

All the news that's old

From The Nation, a small, underfunded operation that draws all too many cranks of the Christopher Hitchens and Doug Ireland variety, yet still manages to report the news: "But consider Task Force 6-26. It sounds like a relic of Pinochet's Operation Condor, whose state-sanctioned acts of murder resulted in the dictator's finally being brought to book after thirty years. In fact, Task Force 6-26 is a secret unit composed mostly of US Navy SEALs operating in Baghdad--its existence unacknowledged by the Pentagon. According to the Washington Post, a fact-finding mission for Army generals warned a year ago that Task Force 6-26 was running an off-the-books prison for detainees and applying more-than-moderate physical pressure--and that same task force is implicated in two prisoner deaths. Despite those warnings, Task Force 6-26, with its bland bureaucratic label, operates in Baghdad to this day....Critically, in the new reports the chain of evidence ends just a whisper away from Donald Rumsfeld. " This was in October. Reuters, the peppy upstart among the wire services, just got around to reporting it. Three months later. And the NYT or the Wapo, the institutions that have the money and the staff to do a first rate job? They'll tell you when it's too late to do anything about it.

Friday, January 13, 2006


Thou Shalt Not Contact The Pundit Lords Of Punditry!

The Raw Story reports that the New York Times is no longer publicly publishing the e-mail addresses of their staffers. And that's not all:

The Times has advised papers which receive their news content to remove any old e-mail addresses which they may have published alongside Op-Ed columns. "The New York Times no longer provides public e-mail addresses for its Op-Ed columnists," a memo obtained by RAW STORY asserts. "With the advent of the paper's online program TimesSelect, subscribers are invited to contact columnists from within The Times' Web site, nytimes.com."
Non-subscribers are apparently invited to go pound salt. As a public service to our readers, I intend to collect up all the e-mail addresses I know of or can find/recall for the NYT's Op-Edders -- starting with the Good Guys: frrich@nytimes.com (Frank Rich) krugman@nytimes.com (The Shrill One) bobherb@nytimes.com (Bob Herbert) public@nytimes.com (Byron Calame, the NYT's Public Editor/Ombudsman) There! That was fast. Now for the Not-So-Good Guys: liberties@nytimes.com (Maureen Dowd) dabrooks@nytimes.com (David Brooks) Hmmm. John Tierney's apparently never had a publicly-printed e-mail address, even though he's been writing offensive crap for them since at least October of 2004. Gee, I wonder why? (Not.) Feel free to suggest more additions.


Friday Cat Blogging

Cats do not approve of housework. This is why mine spent most of last Sunday preventing me from putting the sheets back on the bed.


Noted with interest

CIA husband and wife team Bill and Kathleen Christison: The recent assassinations of anti-Syrian leaders in Lebanon have provided new opportunities for the Bush administration to ratchet up its criticism of Syria still further, although the evidence of Syrian involvement in the assassinations is weak. It is at least possible that other groups, such as the Israel's Mossad or the CIA, are responsible.

ABA Took a dive on Alito, said corrupt practices were normal

"They have all become worthless. No one does anything good, no one at all." --St. Paul in his epistle on the Washingtonians Those of us outside the Beltway see political events unfold and wonder why. Samuel Alito should *not* be on the verge of being confirmed. In addition to crackpot ideas about the "unitary power" of the Executive that sound a lot like monarchism, in addition to long-ago ties to an extremist organization, the guy lied to the Senate. So... why are the Democrats rolling over and playing dead? Probably because the American Bar Association took a dive and rationalized away one of the most egregious examples of conflict of interest in modern judicial history. The simple fact is that Samuel Alito, when he was confirmed for his present position, promised the Senate that he would specifically recuse himself from cases involving Vanguard Mutual funds. He held $390,000 in their funds. And, when a case came before him, he failed to recuse. In layman's language, he lied to the Senate. In lawyer's language, he acted in a manner that created the appearance of a conflict of interest. And this wasn't the only example of this cavalier attitude. So, in reviewing him for the Supreme Court, the ABA asked about this. And here are how they report his answers: Vanguard: Judge Alito acknowledged to us that, consistent with his earlier response to the Judiciary Chairman’s letter of November 10, 2005, “Due to an oversight, it did not occur to me that Vanguard’s status in the matter might call for my recusal.” Smith Barney: He told us that once again this case had “slipped by” and it was unclear to him why the screening system had not picked it up. Midlantic (his sister was a member of the lawfirm handling the case): He told us he did not believe that the screening system is used for rehearings, although it had been used for the original hearing, and that he simply “missed it” when he let his vote be recorded on rehearing. So, he held over $390,000 with Vanguard, yet didn't realize that he had a financial interest in them? And he did this in two other identified cases, and it just "slipped by." Maybe the Senate should deny him the Justice position based on senility. Finally, well down on my list, there's this matter of his extremism and crackpottery. What did the ABA do? They provide us with anonymous statements from people who said he wasn't a nut! But since the people in charge are pretty crazy-- bankrupting the Treasury to wean us from socialistic things like the Medicare we pay taxes for, standing by as whole American cities are destroyed, and leading us into illegal wars-- there is no shortage of nuts willing to testify to one another's sanity. The ABA failed to do its duty. It took a dive. The Senate is merely following them to the floor. "They have all become worthless. No one does anything good, no one at all."

Both Sides Now

It's amazing how stern judges suddenly start evincing a concern for the rights of the convicted when it's their own bottoms that are parked in prison cells. I don't know whether or not this former judge is sincere in his claims of rehabilitation. But I do wonder how he can claim not to know what it was like in the hellholes to which he gleefully sent hundreds of persons during his career, even as he was looting $600,000 from a mentally retarded woman's estate. I have a feeling that none of the persons he sentenced for the maximum ever stole quite as much as he did, or from victims that were quite as helpless. This is not to say that all of the persons he sentenced were angels. Most were not, in all likelihood. But I do find it interesting that someone like him might be considered more "worthy" and "noble", say, than a teenage boy who shoplifts from convenience stores to get food for his family, and whose total takings wouldn't be worth a hundredth of what this ex-judge stole.


Ideas That Work for Working Families

The SEIU has been running a contest, cosponsored by MoveOn, to identify the best ideas to benefit working families. In the first round, they invited people to submit their ideas. The contest judges have selected 21 finalists. Vote!

Thursday, January 12, 2006


It's Official: Joe Biden Is an Idiot

One thing all of Bush's nominees have in common — besides the cronyism and incompetence and venality — is their steadfast refusal to provide information to the Senate that could enable the Senators to make knowledgeable decisions about the nominees' qualifications. The logical response from the Democrats would be to refuse to vote for them, even to filibuster as often as necessary, because the stonewalling amounts to a demonstrated opposition to open government and therefore to the democratic principles on which our government is, in theory, founded. That's why I've concluded (once again) that Joe Biden is an idiot. His response is not to oppose the nominees on principle, but to surrender. Specifically, he says "the system is broken" so we should just give up on trying to get any information from or about the nominees. Joe, why didn't you just go all the way and say the Senate should forget all the stilly nonsense about "advising", and just give the nominees a rubber stamp "an up-or-down vote"?


Maryland Senate: Cardin v. Lichtman

Ben Cardin picked up a challenger for US Senate, Maryland. Professor, civil rights advocate, C-Span regular Allan Lichtman.

Congresswoman from Watergate era says Bush must be impeached

As my friends know, I have concluded that Bush should be impeached but left in office until his very last day, at which point he should become the first President removed from office. That would make it clear that this is not about power or partisanship, but about law and national honor. Elizabeth Holtzman, writing a brilliant brief for impeachment in The Nation I can still remember the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach during those proceedings, when it became clear that the President had so systematically abused the powers of the presidency and so threatened the rule of law that he had to be removed from office. As a Democrat who opposed many of President Nixon's policies, I still found voting for his impeachment to be one of the most sobering and unpleasant tasks I ever had to undertake. None of the members of the committee took pleasure in voting for impeachment; after all, Democrat or Republican, Nixon was still our President. At the time, I hoped that our committee's work would send a strong signal to future Presidents that they had to obey the rule of law. I was wrong.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


The Great Unanswered Question

AP reports:

Asked repeatedly about whether the Supreme Court should have decided Bush v. Gore, the case that settled the 2000 election, Alito declined to answer, saying he hadn't studied the case.
I was thinking, without much hope, that Scalito needed to be asked about this. Of course he evaded it; let's just hope every Democrat in the room recognizes the meaning of that nonanswer.

Bushco: turning US financial supremacy into history

Beyond the deficits, the wars that do not serve the national interest, and the corruption, anyone-- conservative, centrist, or liberal, should agree that this is not a good omen for US financial supremacy: On a personal note, I recently had an unnerving experience as a foreign [British-based] investor in the US. Several years ago I bought US Silver Eagles from a well known and reputable precious metals dealer. They were stored with a depository service. In December I decided to sell them (this was only part of my silver holding - I am still very bullish) The broker I bought them from refused to buy them back! The provisions of the Patriot Act apparently made them liable if I turned out to be a terrorist. He eventually found me an outfit who agreed to take the “risk” of buying them back (reducing the price to me accordingly). Will I be cautious about investing in the US again? You bet. The right wing is focused on winning military battles. But Al Qaida is a lot too smart to engage in war against the US. What they do know is that fear and overreaction grind down the efficiency of an economy. On September 11, 2001, Al Qaida destroyed roughly $30B in human and capital assets. But our economy is so huge that it produces more money than that in one day! Three thousand deaths were replaced by 3000 births/naturalizations in one day! We are such a great nation that even that terrible attack, which devastated so many families, produced just a scratch on America. But Al Qaida, which could do no more than scratch us also knew this: lower the US GDP growth rate by just 0.25%, and you have bled almost three times as much from the economy as we have committed to reconstructing Iraq. Worse, it's a wound that is difficult to staunch, compounding every year. Idiotic restrictions that Bushco has imposed, from flight lists that ban 4 year olds to meddling with physical ownership of silver have seriously damaged US financial credibility. Their constant cries of "terror, terror, terror" have gone beyond being simple bulls--t to being a clear and present danger to this nation.

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