Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Think Progress: Fact Check on SOTU

Think Progress has ongoing fact-check posts on the State of the Union address.

EFF: Class-Action Lawsuit Against AT&T

Thanks to AmericaBlog, check this out: "The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a class-action lawsuit against AT&T on January 31, 2006, accusing the telecom giant of violating the law and the privacy of its customers by collaborating with the National Security Agency (NSA) in its massive and illegal program to wiretap and data-mine Americans' communications.

In December of 2005, the press revealed that the government had instituted a comprehensive and warrantless electronic surveillance program that ignored the careful safeguards set forth by Congress. This surveillance program, purportedly authorized by the President at least as early as 2001 and primarily undertaken by the NSA, intercepts and analyzes the communications of millions of ordinary Americans.

In the largest 'fishing expedition' ever devised, the NSA uses powerful computers to 'data-mine' the contents of these Internet and telephone communications for suspicious names, numbers, and words, and to analyze traffic data indicating who is calling and emailing whom in order to identify persons who may be 'linked' to 'suspicious activities,' suspected terrorists or other investigatory targets, whether directly or indirectly.

But the government did not act-and is not acting-alone. The government requires the collaboration of major telecommunications companies to implement its unprecedented and illegal domestic spying program.


Harper Lee, Gregarious for a Day - New York Times

NY Times does a nice piece on Miss Lee, whose book I started re-reading while on jury duty last week. A real treasure.

Alito Is Confirmed for Supreme Court in 58-42 Vote - New York Times

Alito Is Confirmed for Supreme Court in 58-42 Vote - New York Times: "Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr., who has been widely praised for his intellect and integrity but both admired and assailed for his conservative judicial philosophy, was confirmed today as the 110th justice in the history of the Supreme Court.

The 58-to-42 vote in the Senate gives President Bush a political triumph just hours ahead of his televised State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress at 9 p.m. Eastern time. Judge Alito, who watched the vote from the Roosevelt Room in the White House with his family, is expected to be sworn in later today.

As expected, Judge Alito's support hewed closely to party lines. Among two Republican supporters of abortion rights, Senators Olympia J. Snowe of Maine voted for Judge Alito, while Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island voted no, the only Republican to do so.

Judge Alito also won the support of four Democrats: Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Tim Johnson of South Dakota and Kent Conrad of North Dakota.

The vote is also a triumph for the conservative movement, whose adherents have longed to tilt the balance of the court to the right."

Well, looks like my prediction of early this morning is coming true.

Injured Newsmen Are Transferred Back to U.S. - New York Times

It really sounds like Bob Woodruff has a long road ahead of him...very sad: "The anchor, Bob Woodruff, has been able to move his fingers and toes, said the doctor, Lieut. Col. Guillermo Tellez. Mr. Woodruff remains heavily sedated, Colonel Tellez said, but 'he does open his eyes a little bit.'

While Mr. Woodruff, 44, faces months of recovery and the full extent of his injuries are not yet known, Colonel Tellez said he could imagine him going back to work someday as a broadcast journalist."

PS The NYT copy editor needs to brush up on agreement rules.

WaPo: Feingold calls out Gonzales on wiretaps

Gonzales Is Challenged on Wiretaps: "Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) charged yesterday that Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales misled the Senate during his confirmation hearing a year ago when he appeared to try to avoid answering a question about whether the president could authorize warrantless wiretapping of U.S. citizens.

In a letter to the attorney general yesterday, Feingold demanded to know why Gonzales dismissed the senator's question about warrantless eavesdropping as a 'hypothetical situation' during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in January 2005. At the hearing, Feingold asked Gonzales where the president's authority ends and whether Gonzales believed the president could, for example, act in contravention of existing criminal laws and spy on U.S. citizens without a warrant.

Gonzales said that it was impossible to answer such a hypothetical question but that it was 'not the policy or the agenda of this president' to authorize actions that conflict with existing law. He added that he would hope to alert Congress if the president ever chose to authorize warrantless surveillance, according to a transcript of the hearing.

In fact, the president did secretly authorize the National Security Agency to begin warrantless monitoring of calls and e-mails between the United States and other nations soon after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The program, publicly revealed in media reports last month, was unknown to Feingold and his staff at the time Feingold questioned Gonzales, according to a staff member. Feingold's aides developed the 2005 questions based on privacy advocates' concerns about broad interpretations of executive power.

Gonzales was White House counsel at the time the program began and has since acknowledged his role in affirming the president's authority to launch the surveillance effort. Gonzales is scheduled to testify Monday before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the program's legal rationale.

'It now appears that the Attorney General was not being straight with the Judiciary Committee and he has some explaining to do,' Feingold said in a statement yesterday.


C&L: Buchanan backs up NYT on wingnut judges

Crooks and Liars has the video, wherein our pal Pat acknowledges the truth behind the astonishing NYT story.

"Pat Buchanan revealed on Hardball that they have been working on this campaign for over twenty years to infiltrate the court with freeper, wingnut judges."

Digby on the cloture vote

I hadn't thought of it that way...thanks Digby: "I didn't expect it to get more than 25 votes and I'm frankly stunned that we did as well as we did. Indeed, something very interesting happened that I haven't seen in more than a decade.

When it became clear that the vote was going against the filibuster, Diane Feinstein, a puddle of lukewarm water if there ever was one, decided to backtrack and play to the base instead of the right wing. That's new folks. Given an opportunity to make an easy vote, until now she and others like her (who are legion) would always default to the right to prove their 'centrist' bonafides. That's the DLC model. When you have a free vote always use it to show that you aren't liberal. That's why she was against it originally --- a reflexive nod to being 'reasonable.'

Obama had to choke out his support for a filibuster, but he did it. A calculation was made that he needed to play to the base instead of the punditocrisy who believe that being 'bold' is voting with the Republicans. Don't underestimate how much pressure there is to do that, especially for a guy like Obama who is running for King of the Purple. The whole presidential club, including Biden joined the chorus.

The last time we had a serious outpouring from the grassroots was the Iraq War resolution. My Senator DiFi commented at thetime that she had never seen anything like the depth of passion coming from her constituents. But she voted for the war anyway. So did Bayh, Biden, Clinton, Dodd, Kerry and Reid. The entire leadership of the party. Every one of them went the other way this time. I know that some of you are cynical about these people (and ,well, they are politicans, so don't get all Claud Rains about it) but that means something. Every one of those people were running in one way or another in 2002 and they went the other way. The tide is shifting. There is something to be gained by doing the right thing."

Senate Clears Way for Vote to Confirm Court Nominee - New York Times

My prediction: Bush will be crowing tonight at the SOTU as he introduces the newest justice: "The last obstacle to the confirmation of Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. as the 110th justice of the Supreme Court was cleared on Monday, providing conservatives with what they believe will be another reliable vote on the deeply divided court.

The Senate voted 72 to 25 to allow an up-or-down vote on Judge Alito, ending a last-ditch Democratic effort to block the nomination and giving President Bush a victory to recount in his State of the Union address on Tuesday.

A majority of the Republican-controlled Senate has already pledged to support Judge Alito's confirmation in the final vote, scheduled for Tuesday morning, while almost all of the 45 Democrats are expected to vote against it."

ajc.com: Coretta Scott King has died

Very sad news.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Newsweek: Right wingers practicing "Assault Ministry"

This is scary. If Jesus hadn't risen from the dead he'd be turning in his grave: "Debaters are the new missionaries, having realized they can save a lot more souls from a seat at the top—perhaps even on the highest court in the land. 'Evangelicals have always wanted to persuade people to the faith,' says John Green, a senior fellow at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. 'The new thing is that evangelicals want to be more involved in the world now. Conservative Christian leaders would like to have a cadre of conservative Christian attorneys, who then become judges, politicians and political appointees.' At Patrick Henry College, an evangelical school outside Washington, D.C.—where 30 percent of the student body engages in some form of debate—the president is so committed to producing leaders that he's also the moot-court coach. Baptist Cedarville University in Ohio just tripled its budget for debate scholarships. Falwell's school, in Lynchburg, Va., pours a half million dollars into the debate program every year, with the goal of eventually flooding the system with 'thousands' of conservative Christian lawyers. 'We are training debaters who can perform assault ministry, meaning becoming the conscience of the culture,' says Falwell, who is also hoping the team will elevate the humble academic reputation of Liberty itself. 'So while we have the preaching of the Gospel on the one side—certainly a priority—we have the confronting of the culture on moral default on the other side.'"

Daily Kos: Paul Krugman DESTROYS Howell, Couric

Daily Kos's mldostert: Paul Krugman DESTROYS Howell, Couric. Good summary of an apparently great column.

"How does one report the facts," asked Rob Corddry on "The Daily Show," "when the facts themselves are biased?" He explained to Jon Stewart, who played straight man, that "facts in Iraq have an anti-Bush agenda," and therefore can't be reported.

Mr. Corddry's parody of journalists who believe they must be "balanced" even when the truth isn't balanced continues, alas, to ring true. The most recent example is the peculiar determination of some news organizations to cast the scandal surrounding Jack Abramoff as "bipartisan."

C&L: Frank Caliendo does Bush

Crooks and Liars: Very funny!

AP: Bush panders to religious orgs with AIDS relief grants

This is disturbing on several levels--first, he's playing to his base with tax dollars; second, many of these groups have zero experience with HIV/AIDS; and third, they'll focus on abstinence education rather than care and treatment, most likely, which we're sure will work (right): "New groups are springing up to win a piece of President Bush's $15 billion AIDS program, with traditional players and religious groups joining forces to improve their chances in a competition that already has targeted nearly a quarter of its grants for faith-based organizations.

The administration is putting out a call for new community and church groups to get involved in HIV prevention and care in 15 target countries, most in sub-Saharan Africa. It is reserving $200 million specifically for groups with little or no government grant experience.

Groups that have deep local ties in the countries and focus on abstinence and fidelity — instead of just condoms — are faring well.

'The notion that because people have always received aid money that they'll get money needs to end,' Deputy Global AIDS coordinator Mark Dybul said in a recent interview with The Associated Press.

'The only way to have sustainable programs is to have programs that are wholly owned in terms of management personnel at the local level.'

Those on the ground in Africa say Bush's 3-year-old effort is reshaping prevention efforts.

'You have community organizations, some that have operated for decades, asking for money and you have lots of new organizations popping up,' said Sarah Lucas, a development assistance expert who recently toured four countries on the U.S. target list for HIV/AIDS grants.

Award recipients so far include a Christian relief organization famous for its televised appeals to feed hungry children, a well-known Roman Catholic charity and a group run by the son of evangelist Billy Graham, according to the State Department.

The outreach to nontraditional AIDS players comes in the midst of a debate over how best to prevent the spread of HIV. The debate has activated groups on both ends of the political spectrum and created a vast competition for money.

Conservative Christian allies of the president are pressing the U.S. foreign aid agency to give fewer dollars to groups that distribute condoms or work with prostitutes.

Secular organizations in Africa are raising concerns that new money to groups without AIDS experience may dilute the impact of Bush's program."

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Lawmakers Urge Bush to Make Abramoff Information Public - New York Times

Lawmakers Urge Bush to Make Abramoff Information Public - New York Times: "Republican legislators urged President Bush today to make public photographs and information about contacts that he or his top aides had with the lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who has pleaded guilty to felony charges of conspiracy and fraud in an influence-peddling scandal.

Speaking on the Sunday morning television programs, the lawmakers also called for greater White House cooperation with a Senate inquiry into the federal response to Hurricane Katrina.

'Get it out, get it out,' Senator Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska, said of the Abramoff material. He suggested on ABC television that photos of Mr. Abramoff with Mr. Bush were likely to emerge anyway and that 'disclosure is the best and most effective way to deal with all of these things.'

Senator John Thune of South Dakota and Representative Mike Pence of Indiana, both Republicans, echoed that thought. 'More is better, in terms of disclosure and transparency,' Mr. Thune said on Fox."

AJC: Bar Association seeks halt to Georgia executions

AJC reports on ABA's report, which won't go far in GOPeorgia:
Georgia should place a moratorium on seeking the death penalty because it cannot ensure fairness in defendants' trials and appeals, according to a new report by the American Bar Association.

The report, to be published Monday, found seven flaws that compromise Georgia's administration of the death penalty. In two instances, the ABA report said, Georgia makes it tougher for capital defendants to avoid execution than any other state.

Georgia stands alone in the nation in not guaranteeing lawyers to death row inmates at a critical stage of their appeals, the report noted.

The ABA report also found that Georgia has set the toughest standard in the United States for a defendant to prove he or she is mentally retarded. Georgia and 25 other states prohibit the execution of a prisoner with mental retardation.

Asked if Gov. Sonny Perdue would consider a moratorium, his spokesman, Dan McLagan, said simply: "Nope."

ABC's Woodruff, Cameraman Injured in Iraq on Yahoo! News

When will people realize how serious a mess it is there? Awful news: "ABC News co-anchor Bob Woodruff and a cameraman were seriously injured Sunday in an attack and explosion while reporting from Iraq.

The two journalists were traveling with U.S. and Iraqi troops near Taji, about 12 miles north of Baghdad, when an improvised explosive device went off, ABC News President David Westin said. Both were in serious condition and undergoing surgery at a U.S. military hospital in the area, the network said.

Both Woodruff and cameraman Doug Vogt were wearing body armor and helmets, the network said. The two had embedded with the 4th Infantry Division and traveling with an Iraqi Army unit.

The U.S. military headquarters in Baghdad confirmed that the ABC News team was involved in an attack but declined to provide further details to The Associated Press. An official military statement was expected to be issued later Sunday."

UPDATE: "Both journalists suffered head injuries, and Woodruff also has broken bones. They were in stable condition following surgery at a U.S. military hospital in Iraq, and due to be evacuated to medical facilities in Germany, probably overnight, said ABC News President David Westin."

Saturday, January 28, 2006

NYTimes; Spin and Lies on warrantless spying

A bit over a week ago, President Bush and his men promised to provide the legal, constitutional and moral justifications for the sort of warrantless spying on Americans that has been illegal for nearly 30 years. Instead, we got the familiar mix of political spin, clumsy historical misinformation, contemptuous dismissals of civil liberties concerns, cynical attempts to paint dissents as anti-American and pro-terrorist, and a couple of big, dangerous lies.

The first was that the domestic spying program is carefully aimed only at people who are actively working with Al Qaeda, when actually it has violated the rights of countless innocent Americans. And the second was that the Bush team could have prevented the 9/11 attacks if only they had thought of eavesdropping without a warrant.

Here are the various spins the administration has employed--read the full editorial for the NYT comments:

Sept. 11 could have been prevented.

Only bad guys are spied on.

The spying is legal.

Just trust us.

The rules needed to be changed.

War changes everything.

Other presidents did it.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is about to start hearings on the domestic spying. Congress has failed, tragically, on several occasions in the last five years to rein in Mr. Bush and restore the checks and balances that are the genius of American constitutional democracy. It is critical that it not betray the public once again on this score.

Climate Expert Says NASA Tried to Silence Him - New York Times

Climate Expert Says NASA Tried to Silence Him - New York Times: "The top climate scientist at NASA says the Bush administration has tried to stop him from speaking out since he gave a lecture last month calling for prompt reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases linked to global warming.

The scientist, James E. Hansen, longtime director of the agency's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said in an interview that officials at NASA headquarters had ordered the public affairs staff to review his coming lectures, papers, postings on the Goddard Web site and requests for interviews from journalists.

Dr. Hansen said he would ignore the restrictions. 'They feel their job is to be this censor of information going out to the public,' he said.

Dean Acosta, deputy assistant administrator for public affairs at the space agency, said there was no effort to silence Dr. Hansen. 'That's not the way we operate here at NASA,' Mr. Acosta said. 'We promote openness and we speak with the facts.'

He said the restrictions on Dr. Hansen applied to all National Aeronautics and Space Administration personnel. He added that government scientists were free to discuss scientific findings, but that policy statements should be left to policy makers and appointed spokesmen."

C&L: Santorum's lie about Norquist exposed

Crooks and Liars has the quote and the repudiating video. Priceless.

CNN.com - Poll: Most think Bush is failing second term

Bad news for Bush on the eve of the SOTU: "A majority of Americans are more likely to vote for a candidate in November's congressional elections who opposes President Bush, and 58 percent consider his second term a failure so far, according to a poll released Thursday.

Fewer people consider Bush to be honest and trustworthy now than did a year ago, and 53 percent said they believe his administration deliberately misled the public about Iraq's purported weapons program before the U.S. invasion in 2003, the CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll found."

Friday, January 27, 2006

Arianna: NBC News PR Department Gets Down and Dirty

HuffPo's Arianna takes on Big Tim: "Instead of dealing with the charges head on, the media giant and its Washington bureau chief Tim Russert have astonishingly decided to get down and dirty, dredging up and faxing to at least one reporter a 12-year-old false claim that I hired a private detective to snoop on Russert's wife Maureen Orth while she was preparing a hit piece on me for Vanity Fair in 1994.

I've denied this ludicrous charge, put forward without a shred of evidence many times before -- including directly to Russert during the '96 GOP convention in San Diego. But that's not the point. The point is that instead of addressing the issue of his failure to come clean with his audience on a host of ethical questions, Russert has turned the NBC publicity machine into a vehicle for sleaze and rumor-mongering.

How can one of the major news organizations in the world condone this abysmal behavior? Doesn't NBC News have ethical guidelines when it comes to this kind of thing? (And incidentally, why does NBC News refuse to publish its ethical guidelines, claiming that they are an internal document?)

Look, I know NBC News and Russert would much prefer to debate hoary charges against me rather than the real issues at hand. So let me remind them what those issues are.

Russert refuses to come clean with his audience about his role in Plamegate. He is a participant. He was interviewed under oath by Fitzgerald. But he continued to report on Plamegate as if he were a disinterested observer rather than a major player. And he still refuses to come clean and explain why he fought to keep from testifying in front of the Plamegate grand jury about his fateful chat with Scooter Libby -- even after Libby signed a waiver allowing him to do so.

Plamegate is the perfect segue to another unanswered question. How can someone with these ethical issues go and speak on ethics in the media, as Russert is about to do at Ripon College in Wisconsin next Thursday? And why is NBC refusing to disclose what his speaking fee is?

Russert's latest ethical lapse is his unseemly use of Meet the Press to promote James Carville's new XM radio sports show while refusing to come clean about the fact that Carville's co-host is Russert's college-age son, Luke.

NBC News' diversionary strategy might have worked in the days before blogs started holding the MSM's feet to the fire. But not anymore. One thing is for sure: the Huffington Post and many others in the blogosphere will keep asking the questions Tim Russert doesn't want to answer."

"Fooled Again" Book Review: Eye-opening

Robert Koehler reviews Fooled Again: How the Right Stole the 2004 Election & Why They'll Steal the Next One Too by Mark Crispin Miller in The Christian Century: "This is the part of the story that hits home hardest for me and pushes the crisis into 'oh my God' mode: the institutions that are supposed to be protecting us for the most part simply aren't. On one hand we have what Miller calls the 'Christo-fascist right,' a determined army of zealots who have nothing but contempt for secular, pluralistic, tolerant and democratic American society and feel called upon by a higher power to subvert it; on the other hand we have a meek and blandly 'balanced' punditocracy that refuses to stand on principle or seriously challenge the right.

Consider, for example, how prominent members of the media covered the heart-stopping news that Al Gore did indeed win Florida, and hence the presidency, in 2000, according to a recount commissioned by the media themselves. The New York Times, for instance, not only buried the news in paragraph 14 of its November 12, 2001, story headlined 'Study of Disputed Florida Ballots Finds Justices Did Not Cast the Deciding Vote,' but phrased it with such glib dismissiveness ('In a finding rich with irony . . .') that a reader needed several passes through the verbiage to grasp what was being said.

Here's the heart of the New York Times story: 'An approach Mr. Gore and his lawyers rejected as impractical—a statewide recount—could have produced enough votes to tilt the election his way, no matter what standard was chosen to judge voter intent.'

Come again? If Gore had recounted all the votes he would have won? The paper's point of view seems almost extraterrestrial in its indifference to these findings.
Want a good laugh, America? Gore blew it! The Times betrays not the least concern that the voters who cast their ballots for him, not to mention the democratic process itself, are also interested parties, who, according to the apparent rules of this preposterous game, are hostage to the candidate's choice of legal strategies. This story was not written on their behalf."

WSJ.com: In Swaziland, U.S. Preacher Sees His Dream Vanish

This is dated, but I think instructive in the hubris and self-importance of American evangelical leaders who want to be seen as heroes and demand obedience--even to African kings: "In 2002 Bruce Wilkinson, a Georgia preacher whose self-help prayer book had made him a rich man, heard God's call, moved to Africa and announced his intention to save one million children left orphaned by the AIDS epidemic.

In October, Mr. Wilkinson resigned in a huff from the African charity he founded. He abandoned his plan to house 10,000 children in a facility that was to be an orphanage, bed-and-breakfast, game reserve, bible college, industrial park and Disneyesque tourist destination in the tiny kingdom of Swaziland.

What happened in between is a story of grand hopes and inexperience, divine inspiration and human foibles. Mr. Wilkinson won churchloads of followers in Swaziland, but left them bereft and confused. He gained access to top Swazi officials, but alienated them with his demands. And his departure left critics convinced he was just another in a long parade of outsiders who have come to Africa making big promises and quit the continent when local people didn't bend to their will.

The setback stunned Mr. Wilkinson, who had grown accustomed to operating on a larger-than-life scale, promising that God would enable him to achieve the impossible. "We're going to see the largest humanitarian religious movement in the history of the world from the U.S. to Africa to help in this crisis," Mr. Wilkinson predicted in June, when he believed his orphan village was about to sprout from the African bush.

Just a few months later, he found himself groping with his failure to make that happen. "I'll put it down as one of the disappointments of my career," he says."

Senators in Need of a Spine - New York Times

Senators in Need of a Spine - New York Times Editorial: "Judge Samuel Alito Jr., whose entire history suggests that he holds extreme views about the expansive powers of the presidency and the limited role of Congress, will almost certainly be a Supreme Court justice soon. His elevation will come courtesy of a president whose grandiose vision of his own powers threatens to undermine the nation's basic philosophy of government — and a Senate that seems eager to cooperate by rolling over and playing dead.

It is hard to imagine a moment when it would be more appropriate for senators to fight for a principle. Even a losing battle would draw the public's attention to the import of this nomination."

Fishy: Prosecutor Will Step Down From Lobbyist Case - New York Times

Prosecutor Will Step Down From Lobbyist Case - New York Times: "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.

The administration said that the appointment was routine and that it would not affect the investigation, but Democrats swiftly questioned the timing of the move and called for a special prosecutor."

Trying to Maintain Control of the State, in a State of Confusion

WaPo's Millbank on the Prez's news conference: "In all, Bush uttered nearly 7,000 words in his 45-minute Q&A. But his message could be summed up with a brief phrase in his least-favorite language: L'Etat c'est moi (I am the state).

His approval of a program to eavesdrop without warrants: 'As I stand here right now, I can tell the American people the program is legal,' he certified.

His refusal to release photos of him with Abramoff: 'They're not relevant to the investigation.'

His view on congressional anti-torture legislation: 'Conducting war is a responsibility in the executive branch, not the legislative branch.'

His refusal to provide Congress with testimony about the federal response to Hurricane Katrina: 'That's just the way it works.'

Midway through this Bourbonic performance, the Los Angeles Times's James Gerstenzang offered an observation on Bush's surveillance policy: 'This seems to sound like something President Nixon once said, which was: 'When the president does it, then that means that it's not illegal.' ' Whispered 'oohs' could be heard in the room. Bush gave a look indicating he wished the dangling camera had fallen on Gerstenzang.

'Most presidents believe that during a time of war that we can use our authorities under the Constitution to make decisions necessary to protect us,' he answered, then offered his reading of legislation passed after the 2001 terrorist attacks: 'Go ahead and conduct the war. We're not going to tell you how to do it.'"

Thursday, January 26, 2006

BBC NEWS: Bizarre story--will new Canadian PM go to war against US?

BBC NEWS: New Canadian PM is already following in Bush's blustery footsteps--against us: "Canadian Prime Minister-elect Stephen Harper has defended plans to send military ice-breakers to the Arctic in defiance of criticism from Washington.

US ambassador David Wilkins said on Wednesday that Washington opposed the plan and, like most other countries, did not recognise Canada's claims.

Mr Harper said his mandate was from the Canadian people, not Mr Wilkins.

Mr Harper's Conservatives have promised to defend Canada's northern waters from claims by the US, Russia and Denmark....

The BBC's Lee Carter in Toronto says Canada has only recently woken up to the fact that, with global warming being blamed for melting ice in the Arctic, the so-far-mythical northwest passage, which could link the Atlantic and the Pacific, may in fact become a reality.

But the US has challenged Canada's claims, saying that it considers much of the region to be international waters.

Ambassador Wilkins described the Canadian position as creating a problem that did not exist, prompting an angry reaction from Mr Harper.

"The United States defends its sovereignty, the Canadian government will defend our sovereignty," he said.

"It is the Canadian people we get our mandate from, not the ambassador of the United States.""

Bob Cesca: HuffPost Exclusive: New Video Shows Computer Bush to Deliver State of the Union | The Huffington Post

Funny. And a little scary.

Glenn Greenwald opens a can of worms for the Administration

Here's the story via AmericaBlog: "The Bush Administration opposed legislation that would have given them the very power they now claim they needed, power they now claim they didn't have under FISA. It's because they didn't have this power, they now claim, that they had to break the law and spy without a warrant. But this law would have given them much of the legal power they wanted. Yet they said they didn't need it, and worse yet, that the proposed legislation was likely unconstitutional. But now we know they did it anyway.

And it was all discovered by a blogger, and now it's a big story in Thursday's Washington Post and LA Times. Amazing.

And when you read through the story, below, note what the administration NOW says. They claim the new legislation wouldn't have gone far enough. Really? First, the administration said at the time that the legislation went too far and wasn't needed, so bull.

Second, the Bush administration now is changing their story and claiming that they opposed the legislation because it wouldn't have permitted them to snoop as much as they wanted. But back in 2002 the Bush people said that even the lesser-snooping-power in the proposed legislation was likely unconstitutional. So if the lesser power was likely unconstitutional, imagine how unconstitutional Bush's ACTUAL domestic spying program was and is? A program that by the Bush administration's own admission went (and goes) far beyond what the proposed proposed law would have allowed.

And what's more, the proposed legislation that the Bush administration thought might be unconstitutional, that law applied only to the Bush administration spying on foreigners, NOT Americans. If it was likely unconstitutional for them to use the proposed law to spy on foreigners, imagine how unconstitutional that law would have been had it been applied to Americans? But the Bush warrantless spying WAS on Americans, and by their own admission went FAR beyond the proposed unconstitutional law.

So Bush chose to break the law when he had an alternative. And what's worse, this suggests that Bush feared the Supreme Court would never let him spy on Americans the degree to which he wanted, the court would find it unconstitutional, so that's why Bush never sought the change in the law proposed in 2002 - Bush thought it would have been struck down by the Supreme Court. So Bush chose to break the law in order to circumvent the Supreme Court enforcing the US Constitution."

Winning the hearts and minds of the world, part 145

Abbas to Ask Hamas to Form Next Government - Yahoo! News

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

And now for something completely different

A good way to get your day started. Spread the love.

Friedman vs. ABC News on the state of Al Qaeda

Here's the first line of Friedman's latest column (it's as much as I could afford, I read it in the AJC): "Osama bin Laden is losing in the Arab-Muslim world, but that doesn't mean we're 'winning.'"

So how does this fit with the ABC News exclusive I saw last night:

Al Qaeda and its former protectors — the Taliban — are in the midst of a powerful resurgence, according to accounts by local officials and information contained in new al Qaeda videotapes obtained by ABC News....The fighters seen on tape shout "bin Laden forever! Long live al Qaeda!"

"It has regrouped, reformed and re-emerged with new vigor," said Akbar Ahmed, professor of Islamic studies at American University, "and this is a very dangerous emergence."

AJC: Interesting op-ed on rich vs. poor

David Briggs, from the Plain Dealer: "Biblical scholar David Lull was discussing the Gospel passage in which Jesus tells a wealthy man asking the path to eternal life to sell all he has and give the money to the poor.

When the man walks away sad, according to the passage in Matthew, Jesus turns to his disciples and says, 'And again I say unto you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.'

Lull suddenly looked up and asked the class at Yale Divinity School: 'Who is the rich man?'

I didn't give the question much thought on that morning 22 years ago. My wife was not excited about the cockroaches that scurried around when you turned on the bathroom light in our two-room, linoleum-floor apartment in married-student housing. I was taking out loans, and working 20 hours a week, to go to school. I felt sure this passage did not apply to me.

And that was when Lull looked out at us and declared: 'You are the rich man.'

It was true. My wife and I had safe housing, our own transportation, whatever food we wanted and money to go to the movies or see a play. By any standard in comparison to the world's population, or even just the poor of New Haven, Conn., I was rich.

It was a powerful revelation, one I often have tried to reflect on when I succumb to the temptation of forgetting how fortunate I am and thinking how I am less well off financially than others.

Yet the idea competes with a human tendency --- pushed into overdrive by a secular culture that equates success and happiness with money --- that the only people who are rich are those who earn more than we do."

NYT: Meanwhile, graft and corruption continues in Iraq reconstruction

Welcome to AJC! | ajc.com: "A new audit of American financial practices in Iraq has uncovered irregularities including millions of reconstruction dollars stuffed casually into footlockers and filing cabinets, an American soldier in the Philippines who gambled away cash belonging to Iraq, and three Iraqis who plunged to their deaths in a rebuilt hospital elevator that had been improperly certified as safe.

The audit, released Tuesday by the office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, expands on its previous findings of fraud, incompetence and confusion as the American occupation poured money into training and rebuilding programs in 2003 and 2004.

The special inspector reports to the secretary of defense and the secretary of state. Agents from the inspector general's office found that the living and working quarters of American occupation officials were awash in shrink-wrapped stacks of $100 bills, colloquially known as 'bricks.'

One official kept $2 million in a bathroom safe, another more than a half-million dollars in an unlocked footlocker. One contractor received more than $100,000 to completely refurbish an Olympic pool but only polished the pumps to make them look new; even so, local American officials certified the work as completed. Agents from the inspector general's office examined more than 2,000 contracts, ranging in value from a few thousand dollars to more than a half-million --- about $88 million in all. The report says that in some cases the agents found clear indications of potential fraud and investigations into those cases are continuing.

Much of the material in the audit describes abandoned rebuilding projects, nonexistent paperwork and cash routinely taken from the main vault at headquarters in the southern city of Hilla, which served as a kind of provincial capital for a vast swath of Iraq under the Coalition Provisional Authority, without even a log to keep track of transactions."

AJC: New Marine unit has somber duty

It's hard enough being a Marine in Iraq. Now a new unit has the responsibility to collect the dead and send them home: "Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. --- Family photos are the hardest part. Pictures of smiling spouses, young children and newborn babies.

Marines find them in the pockets of their dead comrades. They are trained to not focus on them. Count them, catalog them and place the pictures facedown, they are told.

But some Marines can't resist. Their curiosity is too strong. They make an emotional connection with the photos. And then the images haunt them.

Lance Cpl. John H. Allen plans to resist them when he arrives in western Iraq next month. He is among about 50 Marine reservists heading there to collect the dead under a new system.

In past wars, most Marine units recovered the remains of their own troops, even the bodies of their enemies. But in September, the Marine Corps formally activated a unit specifically for this mission.

The military predicts this new company, the first of its kind, will allow other Marines to continue fighting and not have to collect the remains of their buddies, an emotionally draining job that can distract them from their missions.

Allen, a 21-year-old waiter and bartender from Alpharetta, is assigned to a Marietta-based detachment of the new company responsible for what the Marines call 'personnel recovery and processing.' The unit recently trained at this sprawling base for its mission in Iraq. Much of that training focused on coping with death."

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A Lowkey Week

I have been selected for jury duty, even though during voir dire I explained I had a progressive political/religious blog! I thought sure that would get me off the hook. Anyway, I'm going to be tied up in the courthouse most of the week, so I'll likely be posting rarely here. Sorry about that, but it's the American way.

Monday, January 23, 2006

New Yorker: The Murrow Doctrine

The New Yorker: I read this piece last week and thought it was fascinating.

Both Edwards’s book, explicitly, and “Good Night, and Good Luck,” obliquely, make it clear why this is a Murrow season. It looks as if, once again, right-wing politicians are trampling on civil liberties in the name of protecting the country from a terrifying global threat. Commercialism and superficiality seem regnant in broadcast news. Owners avoid controversy, cut budgets, and focus on producing the profits that Wall Street demands—we’re back in the fifties. Murrow represents a kind of implacable, heroic journalistic courage that could sweep away all the obstacles in its path.

Judge Alito's Radical Views - New York Times

Judge Alito's Radical Views - New York Times: "Judge Alito may be a fine man, but he is not the kind of justice the country needs right now. Senators from both parties should oppose his nomination.

It is likely that Judge Alito was chosen for his extreme views on presidential power. The Supreme Court, with Justice O'Connor's support, has played a key role in standing up to the Bush administration's radical view of its power, notably that it can hold, indefinitely and without trial, anyone the president declares an 'unlawful enemy combatant.'

Judge Alito would no doubt try to change the court's approach. He has supported the fringe 'unitary executive' theory, which would give the president greater power to detain Americans and would throw off the checks and balances built into the Constitution. He has also put forth the outlandish idea that if the president makes a statement when he signs a bill into law, a court interpreting the law should give his intent the same weight it gives to Congress's intent in writing and approving the law."

Imagine Bush with MORE power...

WaPo: The heavy hand of fascism

Politics Alleged In Voting Cases: "The Justice Department's voting section, a small and usually obscure unit that enforces the Voting Rights Act and other federal election laws, has been thrust into the center of a growing debate over recent departures and controversial decisions in the Civil Rights Division as a whole.

Many current and former lawyers in the section charge that senior officials have exerted undue political influence in many of the sensitive voting-rights cases the unit handles. Most of the department's major voting-related actions over the past five years have been beneficial to the GOP, they say, including two in Georgia, one in Mississippi and a Texas redistricting plan orchestrated by Rep. Tom DeLay (R) in 2003.

The section also has lost about a third of its three dozen lawyers over the past nine months. Those who remain have been barred from offering recommendations in major voting-rights cases and have little input in the section's decisions on hiring and policy."

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Another victory in the war to win the hearts and minds of the world, not

Sympathy for al-Qaida Surges in Pakistan: "Sympathy for al-Qaida has surged after a U.S. airstrike devastated this remote mountain hamlet in a region sometimes as hostile toward the Pakistani government as it is to the United States.

A week after the attack, villagers insist no members of the terror network were anywhere near the border village when it was hit. But thousands of protesters flooded a nearby town chanting, 'Long live
Osama bin Laden!'

Pakistan's army, in charge of hunting militants, was nowhere to be seen."

NBC Cancels 'West Wing' After 7 Seasons

Obviously yielding to White House pressure, because the Bartlett administration makes the real-world one look like a horror show: "The new president on 'The West Wing' will be a real short-timer: NBC announced Sunday it was pulling the plug on the Emmy-winning political drama after seven seasons in May."

Wayward Christian Soldiers

New York Times has an op-ed by an avowed evangelical Christian decrying the conservative movement's unthinking loyalty to Bush's war: "What will it take for evangelicals in the United States to recognize our mistaken loyalty? We have increasingly isolated ourselves from the shared faith of the global Church, and there is no denying that our Faustian bargain for access and power has undermined the credibility of our moral and evangelistic witness in the world. The Hebrew prophets might call us to repentance, but repentance is a tough demand for a people utterly convinced of their righteousness."

TIME.com: When George Met Jack -- Jan. 30, 2006 -- Page 1

TIME.com: When George Met Jack -- Jan. 30, 2006 -- Page 1: "As details poured out about the illegal and unseemly activities of Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff, White House officials sought to portray the scandal as a Capitol Hill affair with little relevance to them. Peppered for days with questions about Abramoff's visits to the White House, press secretary Scott McClellan said the now disgraced lobbyist had attended two huge holiday receptions and a few 'staff-level meetings' that were not worth describing further. 'The President does not know him, nor does the President recall ever meeting him,' McClellan said.

The President's memory may soon be unhappily refreshed. TIME has seen five photographs of Abramoff and the President that suggest a level of contact between them that Bush's aides have downplayed. While TIME's source refused to provide the pictures for publication, they are likely to see the light of day eventually because celebrity tabloids are on the prowl for them. And that has been a fear of the Bush team's for the past several months: that a picture of the President with the admitted felon could become the iconic image of direct presidential involvement in a burgeoning corruption scandal—like the shots of President Bill Clinton at White House coffees for campaign contributors in the mid-1990s."

How Bush Won in 2004

As Elections Near, Officials Challenge Balloting Security: "As the Leon County supervisor of elections, Ion Sancho's job is to make sure voting is free of fraud. But the most brazen effort lately to manipulate election results in this Florida locality was carried out by Sancho himself.

Four times over the past year Sancho told computer specialists to break in to his voting system. And on all four occasions they did, changing results with what the specialists described as relatively unsophisticated hacking techniques. To Sancho, the results showed the vulnerability of voting equipment manufactured by Ohio-based Diebold Election Systems, which is used by Leon County and many other jurisdictions around the country."

Friday, January 20, 2006

CNN is still sick with Fox envy -- and it's only getting worse

Tim Goodman in the SF Chronicle--well said: "And now the CNN brain trust -- hard to write that without some snark on top -- has reshuffled its analyst deck and looks to be adding three conservatives. There's a rumor that CNN will soon announce that disgraced pundit Bill Bennett will join the team, though the odds are currently 99-1, which is right in Bennett's wheelhouse, virtuous gambler that he is.

Now, if this proves to be true, someone needs to put a Webcam on Ailes so the world can see him laughing uproariously for hours on end, wheezing, unable to catch his breath, astounded at the seemingly bottomless desperation of Mr. Klein. You may remember that Bennett was secretary of education under Ronald Reagan, then 'drug czar' under Bush version 1.0 and later went on to host a radio show called, not surprisingly, 'Morning in America.'

But that's the glory. Here's the gory: When Bennett's big-time gambling was exposed, it forced libraries everywhere to refile his 'The Book of Virtues' under 'farce.' OK, so that's a joke. Sort of. But Bennett further delved into controversy by saying, ' If you wanted to reduce crime you could, if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country and your crime rate would go down. That would be an impossible, ridiculous and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down.'

And it gets worse: Fox News didn't renew his contract. If that doesn't say 'you're poison,' nothing does.

So if CNN picks up the very, very sloppy seconds of Fox News by hiring Bennett, it will accomplish the unthinkable: It will make MSNBC's hiring of Rita Cosby, formerly of Fox News, seem less incomprehensibly stupid.

Meanwhile, CNN's Headline News has hired talk-radio host Glenn Beck, who is just to the right of Attila the Hun. The network tried to pass him off as some kind of affable conversationalist. That lasted about four, maybe five seconds, until all k"

Media Matters: Outrageous Beck Opens Mouth Again

Media Matters - Recent CNN hire Beck on Cindy Sheehan: "That's a pretty big prostitute": "On the January 10 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Glenn Beck called anti-war protester Cindy Sheehan 'a pretty big prostitute,' later amending, at the behest of his executive producer, Steve 'Stu' Burguiere, that 'tragedy pimp' would be 'the most accurate description.'

Beck referenced Sheehan during what he called a 'search for the biggest prostitute,' which, he said, sought to answer the question, 'Who'll do anything for power or money?' The game initially pitted former Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss against Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), and suspended Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens.

Beck, who claims that his radio show is 'ranked as the 3rd most listened to talk show in America among Adults 25-54,' was recently hired to host his own program on CNN Headline News."

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Daily Kos: Ripping off the American People?

AmericaBlog and Josh Orton here at DKos have been reporting on a possibly huge scandal--yet another one implicating DeLay and Frist: "In an exclusive last night on Air America Radio's The Majority Report, Rep. Louise Slaughter alleged that day-traders had been operating inside the offices of Senator Frist and Congressman Delay. Telling us that her source was 'as good as gold,' Rep. Slaughter promised to investigate further and get back to us."

Check out the link for further info. This can't be legal, can it?

BATCOTE: 4th Amendment Further Crumbles

Mike at Born at the Crest of the Empire gives some sad details: "This is important. The protections offered under the fourth amendment are on their last legs. Two stories.

First, the whitehouse has issued a white paper explaining why their black program, NSA spying, is legal. I haven't gone through it yet or read the reviews, but this is really good news because now the legal arguments will be out there. And even if the Bush admin has the greatest lawyers in the world, which they don't, their legal argument will now be picked apart by literally tens of thousands of lawyers across the country.

I see this release as desperate by the Whitehouse, coming as it does the day before the first Dem hearings on the matter in the house. If they felt they were winning, they would have stuck to the 'protecting you from terror' stonewall.

Second, the Justice Dept has issued a subpoena for a massive amount of data which may contain the searches of literally millions of people, 'including a request for 1 million random Web addresses and records of all Google searches from any one-week period.' Google has refused to comply.

The Justice Dept's rationale is that it wants to see how often pornography turns up in searches. (It depends on what you search for, you idiots.) This subpoena was issued last year, and with Google failing to respond, this sudden publication of the subpoenas sounds to me like an effort by Justice to limit Google's customer's behavior by threat of future subpoenas."

How Bush administration rewards right-wing religious supporters: $$$

The Virginian Pilot (via the AJC) reports on the amazing growth of federally funded religious programs--and don't tell me Pat Robertson's group doesn't proselytize: "When President Bush launched his 'faith-based initiative' in 2001 to funnel federal money to religious groups, the Rev. Pat Robertson was skeptical, calling the idea a 'Pandora's box' and a 'narcotic' that would ensnare religious organizations in government red tape.

Those misgivings notwithstanding, the federal government has become a major source of money for Operation Blessing, Robertson's international charity, under the Bush initiative. In two years, the group's annual revenue from government grants has ballooned from $108,000 to $14.4 million.

Critics worry that the president's program, which directed more than $2 billion to religious groups nationwide in 2004, is subsidizing evangelistic activity and religious discrimination in hiring.

Operation Blessing says it adheres carefully to federal guidelines designed to safeguard church-state separation and uses the grants for humanitarian relief, not evangelism.

Regardless, the charity's booming federal aid offers a case study in how Washington is channeling money to religious groups at an unprecedented pace and loosening some long-standing restrictions on how they spend it."

AP: Former EPA chiefs slam Bush on environment

And 5 of the 6 were Republicans: "Six former heads of the Environmental Protection Agency --- five Republicans and one Democrat --- accused the Bush administration Wednesday of neglecting global warming and other environmental problems.

'I don't think there's a commitment in this administration,' said Bill Ruckelshaus, who was the EPA's first administrator when the agency opened its doors in 1970 under President Richard Nixon. He headed the agency again under President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s.

Russell Train, who succeeded Ruckelshaus in the Nixon and Ford administrations, said slowing the growth of 'greenhouse' gases isn't enough.

'We need leadership, and I don't think we're getting it,' he said at an EPA-sponsored symposium centered around the agency's 35th anniversary. 'To sit back and just push it away and say we'll deal with it sometime down the road is dishonest to the people and self-destructive.'

All the former administrators and the EPA's current chief, Stephen Johnson, raised their hands when asked whether they believe global warming is a real problem --- and again when asked if humans bear significant blame."

WaPo: CRS further questions wiretap legality

Via the AJC: "The Bush administration appears to have violated the National Security Act by limiting its briefings about a warrantless domestic eavesdropping program to congressional leaders, according to a memo from Congress' nonpartisan research arm released Wednesday.

The Congressional Research Service opinion said the amended 1947 law requires President Bush to keep all members of the House and Senate intelligence committees 'fully and currently informed' of such intelligence activities as the domestic surveillance effort.

The memo from national security specialist Alfred Cumming is the second report this month from the CRS to question the legality of aspects of Bush's domestic spying program. A Jan. 6 report concluded that the administration's justifications for the program conflicted with current law."

AJC: Georgia Democrats pandering?

ajc.com: "Reviving a controversial religious measure debated years ago, a group of Senate Democrats on Wednesday introduced a bill to create an elective high school class to teach the Bible.

If approved, the legislation would authorize the state Board of Education to adopt a state-funded academic course covering the good book's influence on literature, art, music, culture and politics.

'Are they kidding?' asked an incredulous Jeffrey Selman, a Cobb County father who fought evolution disclaimers in students' biology textbooks. 'That's just a disguise to put the Bible back in the classroom.'

Democrats downplayed the religious nature of the proposal, saying that to be well-educated, students must understand biblical allusions in Shakespeare or the religious roots of American democracy.

But Republicans criticized the move as simply pandering to faith-based voters in an election year."

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Brooks likens Dems to Palestinian terrorists?

Just caught a bit of David Brooks on the Imus program on MSNBC, before I had to turn it off. They were talking about the "evil" Hillary Clinton's use of the word "plantation" referring to Congress under GOP control to an African-American audience. Imus (whose shtick is wearing thin--with any reference to Al Gore he has to characterize the rightful president as "the most evil person on the earth"...why?) asked Brooks about the controversy. It sounded to me like he said the GOP leadership can tend to be smug and arrogant, but the Dems get hysterical, and he likened them to Palestinians who will do anything to get their point across, including kill themselves and others apparently. I'm not sure what else he could have meant. Did anyone else catch this? Maybe Crooks & Liars or somebody will have the video. Now how is this not worse than Hillary using the word "plantation"?

AMERICAblog: Gore blasts back

John comments on Gore's response to Gonzales' attack which only proves why we need an independent counsel on the matter: "First, Gore notes that Gonzales doesn't even understand the law, nor does he understand that the Clinton administration obeyed federal law regarding spying on Americans, while Gonzales and the Bush administration broke the law. Secondly, Gore notes that even if you accept Gonzales' false argument that Clinton spied on Americans in violation of the law so Bush can now do it, Gonzales is proving why it is so important that a special prosecutor investigate what Bush did. Future administrations will rely on Bush's lawlessness to justify their own, just as Gonzales is (falsely) relying on what he claims was Clinton's lawlessness to justify Bush illegally spying on American citizens.

This is getting good. Law-breaking conservatives are making the mistake of thinking that Al Gore is somehow persona non grata to the American public. They think that by simply taking him on publicly, they win. On the contrary, whether Gore did or didn't win the 2000 election, people didn't dislike Al Gore. He's a nice enough guy, and is clearly intelligent and well-read. I think the growing Al vs. Alberto feud is just what the doctor ordered for a media feeding frenzy on this issue. And I'd love to have someone of Gore's intelligence take the issue head on. And judging by the amount of vitriol the administration and its surrogates spewed after Gore made his speech yesterday, they clearly perceive him, and his message, as a danger."

Think Progress: AP Reports Facts on White House Smear of Gore

Think Progress has the link to an AP story debunking Gonzales' attempted smear of Gore. The wild charges against the rightful president coming from the White House (Gore's "hypocrisy knows no bounds," Scottie said) indicate he must have struck a nerve: "This morning, ThinkProgress revealed charges of hypocrisy leveled against former Vice President Al Gore by Attorney General Gonzales were completely baseless. Now, the AP has updated its story on the Bush administration’s smear of Gore to include the facts:

McClellan said the Clinton-Gore administration had engaged in warrantless physical searches, and he cited an FBI search of the home of CIA turncoat Aldrich Ames without permission from a judge. He said Clinton’s deputy attorney general, Jamie Gorelick, had testified before Congress that the president had the inherent authority to engage in physical searches without warrants.

“I think his hypocrisy knows no bounds,” McClellan said of Gore.

But at the time of the Ames search in 1993 and when Gorelick testified a year later, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act required warrants for electronic surveillance for intelligence purposes, but did not cover physical searches. The law was changed to cover physical searches in 1995 under legislation that Clinton supported and signed.

Bush’s attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, made the same arguments as McClellan during interviews Monday on CNN’s “Larry King Live” and Fox News Channel’s “Hannity & Colmes.”"

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Variety: CNN Headline gives kneejerk winger his own TV show

Variety.com - CNN names new headliner: "CNN's Headline News has signed conservative radio host Glenn Beck for an hourlong talkshow in hopes of building on the ratings momentum generated by a revamped primetime lineup anchored by 'Nancy Grace.'

The signing of Beck, expected to be announced today, will add a fourth show to HLN's primetime in addition to 'Grace,' 'Showbiz Tonight' and 'Prime News Tonight.'

'Glenn Beck is the next piece of the puzzle,' said HLN prexyprexy Ken Jautz. 'Glenn's style is self-deprecating, cordial; he says he'd like to be able to disagree with guests and part as friends. It's conversational, not confrontational.'

Beck, a former top 40 deejaydeejay who became a nationally syndicated talkshow host five years ago, recently moved his radio studio from Philadelphia to New York City to be closer to HLN studios.

New show will debut in April, though a timeslot has not been set. Jautz said any of the existing shows could be shuffled to accommodate Beck but none will be cancelled."

NYTimes: All that spying hasn't produced many results

The NY Times reports on the mass spying on Americans--and how little it has accomplished: "In the anxious months after the Sept. 11 attacks, the National Security Agency began sending a steady stream of telephone numbers, e-mail addresses and names to the F.B.I. in search of terrorists. The stream soon became a flood, requiring hundreds of agents to check out thousands of tips a month.

But virtually all of them, current and former officials say, led to dead ends or innocent Americans.

F.B.I. officials repeatedly complained to the spy agency that the unfiltered information was swamping investigators. The spy agency was collecting much of the data by eavesdropping on some Americans' international communications and conducting computer searches of phone and Internet traffic. Some F.B.I. officials and prosecutors also thought the checks, which sometimes involved interviews by agents, were pointless intrusions on Americans' privacy.

As the bureau was running down those leads, its director, Robert S. Mueller III, raised concerns about the legal rationale for a program of eavesdropping without warrants, one government official said. Mr. Mueller asked senior administration officials about 'whether the program had a proper legal foundation,' but deferred to Justice Department legal opinions, the official said.

President Bush has characterized the eavesdropping program as a 'vital tool' against terrorism; Vice President Dick Cheney has said it has saved 'thousands of lives.'

But the results of the program look very different to some officials charged with tracking terrorism in the United States. More than a dozen current and former law enforcement and counterterrorism officials, including some in the small circle who knew of the secret program and how it played out at the F.B.I., said the torrent of tips led them to few potential terrorists inside the country they did not know of from other sources and diverted agents from counterterrorism work they viewed as more productive.

'We'd chase a number, find it's a schoolteacher with no indication they've ever been involved in international terrorism - case closed,' said one former F.B.I. official, who was aware of the program and the data it generated for the bureau. 'After you get a thousand numbers and not one is turning up anything, you get some frustration.'"

Independent: Is Afghanistan "success" unraveling?

The Independent reports on the latest suicide bombings and the growth of the "new" Taliban, making some wonder if we know what we're doing in a place some have apparently forgotten: "The new Taliban are deploying tactics that have torn Iraq to shreds, and Afghanistan is seeing a surge in the previously unknown practice of suicide bombings � 25 in four months. This is seen as the reintroduction of al-Qa'ida into Afghanistan � a devastating example of how over-extending the 'war on terror' into Iraq is rebounding on the West with vengeance. Tony Blair declared after the overthrow of the Taliban and the retreat of Osama bin Laden and al-Qa'ida that 'this time we will not walk away' , a reference to how Afghanistan was allowed to sink into its cycle of destruction after the West had used and then abandoned the country in the Cold War against the Soviets."

Monday, January 16, 2006

President Gore on the pretender's Constitutional crisis

The Raw Story has the text of Gore speech, January 16, 2006: "Congressman Barr and I have disagreed many times over the years, but we have joined together today with thousands of our fellow citizens-Democrats and Republicans alike-to express our shared concern that America's Constitution is in grave danger.

In spite of our differences over ideology and politics, we are in strong agreement that the American values we hold most dear have been placed at serious risk by the unprecedented claims of the Administration to a truly breathtaking expansion of executive power.

As we begin this new year, the Executive Branch of our government has been caught eavesdropping on huge numbers of American citizens and has brazenly declared that it has the unilateral right to continue without regard to the established law enacted by Congress to prevent such abuses."

Worth reading all.

Born at the Crest of the Empire: Quickhits - Bloggered

I have too much to do to catch up today...and Mike has already conveniently put together a news catchall post, so check it out!

In Ga., Abramoff Scandal Threatens a Political Ascendancy

The Atlanta Journal Constitution has been doing great work uncovering Reed's dark side, and now the WaPo joins in the fun: "At age 44, he still has the choirboy looks that have been noted in dozens of profiles over the past 20 years. But the first major dent in Reed's carefully cultivated image came with the disclosure in the summer of 2004 that his public relations and lobbying companies had received at least $4.2 million from Abramoff to mobilize Christian voters to fight Indian casinos competing with Abramoff's casino clients.

Similarly damaging has been a torrent of e-mails revealed during the investigation that shows a side of Reed that some former supporters say cannot be reconciled with his professed Christian values.

'After reading the e-mail, it became pretty obvious he was putting money before God,' said Phil Dacosta, a Georgia Christian Coalition member who had initially backed Reed. 'We are righteously casting him out.'"

Back from a weekend off

Sorry to have been quiet here for the weekend, but I took a trip to West Virginia to visit the folks.

Hope you have a meaningful and enjoyable Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Friday, January 13, 2006

HuffPo: Bush Admin. Launched Secret Smear Campaign Against Murtha

Bush Admin. Launched Secret Smear Campaign Against Murtha… | The Huffington Post: "The Huffington Post has learned the Bush administration recently asked high ranking military leaders to denounce Congressman John Murtha. Congressman Murtha has called for the Bush Administration to withdraw US troops from Iraq.

The Bush Administration first attacked Rep. Murtha for his Iraq views by associating him with the filmmaker Michael Moore and Representative Jean Schmidt likened him to a coward on the floor of the House of Representatives. When those tactics backfired, Dick Cheney called Murtha 'A good man, a marine, a patriot and he's taking a clear stand in an entirely legitimate discussion.'
Though the White House has backed off publicly, administration officials have nevertheless recently made calls to military leaders to condemn the congressman. So far they have refused.

Rep. Murtha spent 37 years in the Marine Corps earning a Bronze Star, two Purple Hearts and a Navy Distinguished Service Medal. His service has earned him the respect of the military, and made him a trusted adviser to both Republican and Democratic presidents and leaders of the armed forces."

Thursday, January 12, 2006

AMERICAblog: Lindsey doesn't get it

AMERICAblog: John has a very simple and profound explanation for Sen. Graham: "Senator Graham is on CNN right now talking about how Judge Alito is being accused of bigotry using 'guilt by association' simply because he belonged to an organization that may have said some bad things.

Well, here's a newsflash Senator Graham. When an organization is formed expressly to kick women and minorities out of your university, and you join that organization, pray tell what else are we to conclude? That David Duke joined the Klan because they have great bake sales? Because the chicks are hot? What exactly is your point, Senator?

This is why the GOP doesn't get bigotry. They think bigots hang out in white hoods with burning crosses in their front yards. Some do, but most don't. And to suggest that it's only guilt by association when you choose to join a group whose main purpose is to embrace and promote bigotry, then you render the definition of bigotry meaningless.

And in any case, it's always enjoyable to hear a southern Republican lecture the rest of us on the meaning of bigotry."

The Impeachment of George W. Bush

HuffPo linked to this piece by former Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman in The Nation--worth reading: "Finally, it has started. People have begun to speak of impeaching President George W. Bush--not in hushed whispers but openly, in newspapers, on the Internet, in ordinary conversations and even in Congress. As a former member of Congress who sat on the House Judiciary Committee during the impeachment proceedings against President Richard Nixon, I believe they are right to do so.

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."

AMERICAblog: More on the lack of privacy with cell phone calls

AMERICAblog: John has bought Wes Clark's cell phone records--shocking: "UPDATE: We tried to get the cell phone records of other high-profile Washingtonians like ABC's George Stephanopoulos, the Washington Post's Dana Milbank, and the New York Time's Adam Nagourney, but LocateCell was unable to provide me with their records (possibly because those three use Verizon as their cell phone service, or possibly because LocateCell was on to me).

I reported the other day that your cell phone records are on sale online for anyone to buy, without your permission. Well, this morning AMERICAblog bought former presidential candidate, and former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO (SACEUR), General Wesley Clark's cell phone records for one hundred calls made over three days in November 2005, no questions asked. (Clark's cell phone provider is Omnipoint Communications, which seems to be related to T-Mobile.)

All we needed was General Clark's cell phone number and our credit card, and 24 hours later we had one hundred calls the general made on his cell phone in November. The calls included a number of calls to Arkansas, to foreign countries, and at least one call to a prominent reporter at the Washington Post. To ensure that we actually had General Clark's correct cell phone number, we called the number this morning and the voice mail recording that answered said:

'Hi, this is Wes Clark, leave a message [unintelligible].'"

Top 10 Stan Lee moments

Top 10 Stan Lee moments: "They’ve been on the silver screen, the small screen and screen-printed on underwear.

From Spider-Man to the Incredible Hulk, the many characters co-created by Stan Lee have become pop culture lore.

But before they were bite-sized fruit snacks, they were comic book heroes.

And Stan “The Man” Lee was the most prolific writer of his generation, pumping out a decade’s worth of stories for Marvel Comics.

So what were his best moments?"

Born at the Crest of the Empire: Bush's Town hall

Mike has a spot-on comment about the planted 7-year-old at one of Bush's recent town halls.

Cornyn shows once again he is a moron

Daily Kos has a link to the video, where the GOP senator called Alito "Scalito". Twice.

Daily Kos: Lindsey Graham Made Mrs. Alito Cry

Even conservative is fed up with GOP lies, especially Drudge's latest.

AMERICAblog: Poll shows Americans pessimistic on Iraq

Chris comments on a new CNN poll that must have the White House in a tizzy: "Bush dragged the country into a mess that he can't live up to, only finding cheap excuses and blaming everyone else for his own failure. C'mon, Bush and his friends sold Iraq as a walk in the park and a quick hit/success and we'd all be bathing in oil. Why do Americans hate America?

Fewer than one in five, or about 19 percent, of the 1,003 adults quizzed Friday through Sunday, said they believe Iraqis can assemble a sound, democratic government in the next 12 months that is able to maintain order without the assistance of U.S. troops. Seventy-five percent said they didn't believe that would happen."

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

AFA is mad at Ford again

They are not happy that Ford changed their minds about pulling support of gay causes and magazine ads. They want gays gone.

Daily Kos: Bush says war critics irresponsible

Daily Kos: Bush wants opponents to just shut up. Our rights wither one by one. And if we lose our rights, the terrorists have won.

AMERICAblog: You can't have it both ways

John makes a good point regarding the charges against two Brits for releasing secret docs about Bush's plan to bomb Al Jazeera. The White House had dismissed the documents as "outlandish and inconceivable." They couldn't possibly be authentic. So why arrest people for releasing fakes?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

AMERICAblog: Even the National Review says it's a GOP scandal

AMERICAblog has some amazing quotes from the National Review column:

...The GOP now craves such bipartisan cover in the Jack Abramoff scandal. Republicans trumpet every Democratic connection to Abramoff in the hope that something resonates. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.), took more than $60,000 from Abramoff clients! North Dakota Democratic Sen. Byron Dorgan used Abramoff's skybox! It is true that any Washington influence peddler is going to spread cash and favors as widely as possible, and 210 members of Congress have received Abramoff-connected dollars. But this is, in its essence, a Republican scandal, and any attempt to portray it otherwise is a misdirection.

Abramoff is a Republican who worked closely with two of the country's most prominent conservative activists, Grover Norquist and Ralph Reed. Top aides to the most important Republican in Congress, Tom DeLay (R., Tex.) were party to his sleazy schemes. The only people referred to directly in Abramoff's recent plea agreement are a Republican congressmen and two former Republican congressional aides. The GOP members can make a case that the scandal reflects more the way Washington works than the unique perfidy of their party, but even this is self-defeating, since Republicans run Washington.

Republicans must take the scandal seriously and work to clean up in its wake.

Rodell on Bush's recess appointments

AJC reprints her column from the Charleston Gazette which concludes, after listing some of the more egregious examples of recent Bush hackery, thusly: "While Americans pay the price for the ineptitude of inexperienced or compromised cronies, the White House keeps churning these appointments out, telling Congress to take a flying leap.

Recess appointments are supposed to be used in an emergency when there's no time to go through the usual confirmation process, not to subvert the Senate's constitutional duty to review the executive branch's choices to fill important posts.

Either Bush is showing a level of arrogance that's surprising even in this very arrogant administration --- or he simply doesn't know where else to look for people except among family and friends. It's a scary thought, but I honestly think that's possible."

Monday, January 09, 2006

Cheney Hospitalized, Expected to Return Home Today - New York Times

Cheney Hospitalized, Expected to Return Home Today - New York Times: "Vice President Dick Cheney was hospitalized early this morning after suffering from shortness of breath, but doctors ruled out any recurrence of his long-standing heart problems, according to a statement issued by his office."

Here's my prediction: At some point in the next year, because of health issues, Cheney will resign as VP. Bush will nominate someone like Giuliani or some other upcoming GOP freshface, who will then make 08 a real race. Unfortunately. Plus, if Bush does have to resign at some point because of any number of illegalities, the new Veep can claim independence from the administration.

Born at the Crest of the Empire: Who ratted on DeLay?

Mike makes a very interesting point regarding the DeLay matter: "One of the two congressmen who publicly started the petition to have Tom Delay removed from his post as majority leader was Jeff Flake(R - Az.) That name rung a bell, and so I went back in my mind and remembered that not too long ago, after the Nov. elections, when Santorum and several other people in the House and Senate were dodging the question, 'would you want Bush to campaign for you?' Jeff Flake stepped up and invited Bush down.

Flake also stood by the president on his recent immigration tour, loudly trumpeting Bush's guest worker program. Medicaire drug benefit, social security accounts, Flake was there with Bush on every one of these bad ideas.

One of the questions that came up before Delay stepped aside was who was gonna have the guts to be the one to publicly ask for it. My wildassed speculation here is that it was in fact somebody in the Bush administration who sent Flake out there to take down Delay guaranteeing Flake political cover from the Whitehouse."

Sunday, January 08, 2006

C&L: Dean tells it like it is

Howard Dean left Wolf Blitzer sort of speechless when he said, point blank, the Abramoff scandal is purely Republican.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Daily Kos: Evangelicals Criticize Pat Robertson

Daily Kos: Well, there may be a glimmer of hope for the evangelical wing of the church.

Daily Kos: FRANK RICH: Wiretappers That Couldn't Shoot Straight

Daily Kos summarizes Rich's latest, and I'm sure O'Reilly won't be happy with ol' Frank.

C&L: Video of Bush trying to get sympathy from wounded troops

How much more proof do we need that he is an uncaring moron?

NYT: Extra Armor Could Have Saved Many Lives, Study Shows - New York Times

NY Times reports on a Pentagon study that indicates most of the U.S. casualties in Iraq could have been prevented with a little more body armor--a shocking tragedy: "A secret Pentagon study has found that at least 80 percent of the marines who have been killed in Iraq from wounds to their upper body could have survived if they had extra body armor. That armor has been available since 2003 but until recently the Pentagon has largely declined to supply it to troops despite calls from the field for additional protection, according to military officials.

The ceramic plates in vests currently worn by the majority of military personnel in Iraq cover only some of the chest and back. In at least 74 of the 93 fatal wounds that were analyzed in the Pentagon study of marines from March 2003 through June 2005, bullets and shrapnel struck the marines' shoulders, sides or areas of the torso where the plates do not reach.

Thirty-one of the deadly wounds struck the chest or back so close to the plates that simply enlarging the existing shields 'would have had the potential to alter the fatal outcome,' according to the study, which was obtained by The New York Times.

For the first time, the study by the military's medical examiner shows the cost in lost lives from inadequate armor, even as the Pentagon continues to publicly defend its protection of the troops. Officials have said they are shipping the best armor to Iraq as quickly as possible. At the same time, they have maintained that it is impossible to shield forces from the increasingly powerful improvised explosive devices used by insurgents. Yet the Pentagon's own study reveals the equally lethal threat of bullets."

WaPo: Report Rebuts Bush on Spying

Report Rebuts Bush on Spying: "A report by Congress's research arm concluded yesterday that the administration's justification for the warrantless eavesdropping authorized by President Bush conflicts with existing law and hinges on weak legal arguments.

The Congressional Research Service's report rebuts the central assertions made recently by Bush and Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales about the president's authority to order secret intercepts of telephone and e-mail exchanges between people inside the United States and their contacts abroad.


The 44-page report said that Bush probably cannot claim the broad presidential powers he has relied upon as authority to order the secret monitoring of calls made by U.S. citizens since the fall of 2001. Congress expressly intended for the government to seek warrants from a special Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court before engaging in such surveillance when it passed legislation creating the court in 1978, the CRS report said.

The report also concluded that Bush's assertion that Congress authorized such eavesdropping to detect and fight terrorists does not appear to be supported by the special resolution that Congress approved after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, which focused on authorizing the president to use military force.

"It appears unlikely that a court would hold that Congress has expressly or impliedly authorized the NSA electronic surveillance operations here," the authors of the CRS report wrote. The administration's legal justification "does not seem to be . . . well-grounded," they said."

Friday, January 06, 2006

Born at the Crest of the Empire: Risen is making some incredible claims

Mike nicely summarizes some of the major points Risen is making in his new book.

NYT: Pointless photo op

From the New York Times via the AJC: "Colin Powell said nothing --- a silence that spoke volumes to many in the White House on Thursday morning.

His predecessor, Madeleine Albright, a bit stirred up after hearing an exceedingly upbeat 40-minute briefing to 13 former secretaries of state and defense about how well things were going in Iraq, asked President Bush whether, with the war 'taking up all the energy' of his foreign policy team, he had let the nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea spin out of control and allowed Latin America and China policy suffer by neglect.

'I can't let this comment stand,' Bush shot back, telling Albright and the rare assembly of her colleagues, who reached back to the Kennedy White House, that his administration 'can do more than one thing at a time.' The Bush administration, he insisted, had 'the best relations of any country with Japan, China and Korea,' and had active programs to make alliances around the world.

That was, it appears, one of the few heated moments during an unusual White House effort to bring some of its critics into the fold and provide a patina of bipartisan common ground to the strategy Bush has laid out in recent weeks for Iraq.

But if it was a bipartisan consultation, as advertised by the White House, it was a brief one. Bush allowed five to 10 minutes for interchange with the group --- which included three veterans of the Vietnam era: Robert McNamara, Melvin Laird and James Schlesinger --- before herding the whole group into the Oval Office for what he called a 'family picture.'

Those who wanted to impart more wisdom to the current occupants of the White House were sent back across the hall to meet again with Stephen Hadley, the national security adviser, and Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. But as several of the participants noted, by that time Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had gone on to other meetings."

Shales in WaPo: 'Book of Daniel': A Mean-Spirited, Unholy Mess

Ah, crap, I was looking forward to this as it sounded very promising--especially when a couple of local NBC affiliates canceled it due to Donald Wildmon's pressure: "I cannot recall a series in which a greater number of characters seemed so desperately detestable -- a series with a larger population of loathsome dolts. There ought to be a worse punishment than cancellation for a show that tries this hard to be offensive and, even at that crass task, manages to fail."

Thursday, January 05, 2006

HuffPo's James Moore: Branded

Jim Moore, who wrote Bush's Brain, talks about being a target of the administration: "I have been on the No Fly Watch List for a year. I will never be told the official reason. No one ever is. You cannot sue to get the information. Nothing I have done has moved me any closer to getting off the list. There were 35,000 Americans in that database last year. According to a European government that screens hundreds of thousands of American travelers every year, the list they have been given to work from has since grown to 80,000.

My friends tell me it is just more government incompetence. A tech buddy said there's no one in government smart enough to write a search algorithm that will find actual terrorists, so they end up with authors of books criticizing the Bush White House. I have no idea what's going on."

Media Matters: Creepy Robertson blamed Sharon stroke on policy of "dividing God's land"

Media Matters - Robertson blamed Sharon stroke on policy of "dividing God's land": "On the January 5 edition of Christian Broadcasting Network's (CBN) The 700 Club, host Pat Robertson suggested that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's recent stroke was the result of Sharon's policy, which he claimed is 'dividing God's land.' Robertson admonished: 'I would say woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the EU [European Union], the United Nations, or United States of America.' Although Robertson professed that 'Sharon was personally a very likeable person,' he nonetheless declared that 'God has enmity against those who, quote, 'divide my land.' ' Robertson called the 1995 assassination of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin 'the same thing.' A previous CBN news article, titled 'Dividing the Land, Dishonoring God's Covenant,' examined Sharon's decision to return control of the Gaza strip to the Palestinian Authority."

Read the transcript. Chilling. He's not talking about the God I worship.

The Raw Story: Congressmembers write White House, ask if reporters were bugged

The Raw Story reports: "Congressman John Conyers, Jr. and 21 other House Democrats sent a letter to President Bush today requesting that he provide a range of information concerning the controversial warrantless surveillance program by the NSA, RAW STORY has learned.

In light of recent disclosures by NBC that CNN Reporter Christiane Amanpour's telephone calls may have been intercepted by the Bush Administration -- a fact caught by AmericaBLOG's John Aravosis. The Democrats asked for information regarding whether any reporters or other members of the media have had phone calls intercepted under the NSA program."

HuffPo: Acting Israeli PM is a HuffPo blogger

The Blog | Vice Prime Minister Ehud Olmert: Moving Israel Forward with Kadima | The Huffington Post

AP: Iraq is blowing up--awful news

AP: 130 Dead in Series of Attacks in Iraq: "Suicide bombers targeted Shiite pilgrims in the south and police recruits in central Iraq, and a roadside bomb killed five U.S. soldiers, bringing Thursday's death toll to at least 130 people in a series of attacks as politicians tried to form a coalition government.

The two-day toll from insurgent attacks rose to 183, reflecting a dramatic upsurge in bloodshed following the Dec. 15 parliamentary elections. Some leading Sunni politicians accuse the Shiite-led government of condoning fraud in the voting.

Iraq's prime minister denounced the violence as an attempt to derail the political process at a time when progress was being made toward including the Sunnis in a new, broad-based government and thereby weakening the Sunni-led insurgency.

But Iraq's largest Shiite party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, blamed the violence on Sunni Arab groups that fared poorly in the elections. SCIRI warned that Shiite patience was wearing thin, and it accused the U.S.-led coalition forces of restraining the Iraqi army and its police forces.

Thursday's death toll — the largest single-day total since Sept. 29, when 162 died, and one of the bloodiest days in the three-year insurgency — included five American soldiers killed by a roadside bomb while patrolling the Baghdad area, the U.S. military said."

AMERICAblog: Brooks blasts slimy GOP

AMERICAblog has portions of conservative David Brooks's latest column, and it's hot: "I don't know what's more pathetic, Jack Abramoff's sleaze or Republican paralysis in the face of it. Abramoff walks out of a D.C. courthouse in his pseudo-Hasidic homburg, and all that leading Republicans can do is promise to return his money and remind everyone that some Democrats are involved in the scandal, too.

That's a great G.O.P. talking point: some Democrats are so sleazy, they get involved with the likes of us....

Tom DeLay needs to take care of his own legal problems and give up the dream of returning as majority leader.

But Republicans need to do more than bump DeLay. They need to put the entire leadership team up for a re-vote. That's because the real problem wasn't DeLay, it was DeLayism, the whole culture that merged K Street with the Hill, and held that raising money is the most important way to contribute to the team....

Finally, today before noon, fire Bob Ney as chairman of the House Administration Committee. For God's sake, Republicans, show a little moral revulsion.

Back in the dim recesses of my mind, I remember a party that thought of itself as a reform, or even a revolutionary movement. That party used to be known as the Republican Party. I wonder if it still exists."

AMERICAblog on NBC and the administration's alleged spying on Amanpour

AMERICAblog has been doing a great job bringing this story to the forefront and has an update on NBC's latest explanation. Are they really working on the story about the administration's spying on reporters? That could be huge.

And here's Mike's take on it...

AMERICAblog: Hypocritical anti-gay Southern Baptist leader arrested

AMERICAblog has the story: "An executive committee member of the Southern Baptist Convention was arrested on a lewdness charge for propositioning a plainclothes policeman outside a hotel, police said.

Lonnie Latham, senior pastor at South Tulsa Baptist Church, was booked into Oklahoma County Jail Tuesday night on a misdemeanor charge of offering to engage in an act of lewdness, police Capt. Jeffrey Becker said. Latham was released on $500 bail Wednesday afternoon.

Latham, who has spoken out against homosexuality, asked the officer to join him in his hotel room for oral sex. Latham was arrested and his 2005 Mercedes automobile was impounded, Becker said....

When he left jail, he told Oklahoma City television station KFOR:

'I was set up. I was in the area pastoring to police.'....

Latham is one of four Southern Baptist Convention executive committee members from Oklahoma....

He has also spoken out against same-sex marriage and in support of a Southern Baptist Convention directive urging its 42,000 churches to befriend gays and lesbians and try to convince them that they can become heterosexual 'if they accept Jesus Christ as their savior and reject their 'sinful, destructive lifestyle.''"

Not only is the hypocrisy appalling regarding homosexuality, but the guy is driving a 2005 Mercedes! What would Jesus do?