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
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: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!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.
The Kremlin Watch: Newsweek identifies scapegoat
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
Why poison him when you can use Ann Thrax?
Friday, January 27, 2006
Diane Wilson: An angel within.
Friday Cat Blogging
I double dog dare you...
The Abramoff Investigation: Killing it Softly
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.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?
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.
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
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.
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
Day of Judgment
Land of Liars: Washington Post editor caught in mendacity
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.
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
The much-maligned kangaroo
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
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
The tangled ties of white supremacism and anti-immigrant sentiment
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
"The British policy is the American policy"
Signs of the End of Days
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
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?
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!
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.
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.
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
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."
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.
Junk mail and junk government
Plus ça change…
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
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
All the news that's old
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: email@example.com (Frank Rich) firstname.lastname@example.org (The Shrill One) email@example.com (Bob Herbert) firstname.lastname@example.org (Byron Calame, the NYT's Public Editor/Ombudsman) There! That was fast. Now for the Not-So-Good Guys: email@example.com (Maureen Dowd) firstname.lastname@example.org (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
Noted with interest
ABA Took a dive on Alito, said corrupt practices were normal
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.
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
Congresswoman from Watergate era says Bush must be impeached
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
The Great Unanswered Question
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
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