Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Offline for a few days

I'll be away for several days. Hope to see you back here soon.


Daily Kos: Hanging Scooter Out to Dry?

Daily Kos: mcjoan pulls together some recent Plamegate threadsa>: "Plamegate is back, and with what a fun twist! Steve Clemons at The Washington Note confirms through a source 'close to Rove' Raw Story's assertion that Rove has turned on Libby." Much more at the link.

Daily Kos: President Carter's Questions and Answers

Daily Kos: Questions and Answers with Jimmy Carter. Check it out.

AP: Afghan Christian goes free...kinda

Christian Convert Vanishes After Release - Yahoo! News: "An Afghan man who had faced the death penalty for converting from Islam to Christianity quickly vanished Tuesday after he was released from prison, apparently out of fear for his life with Muslim clerics still demanding his death."

AJC: Border guards fail bomb test

A scary story from ajc.com: "Undercover federal investigators say they were able to drive into the United States from Canada and Mexico last year with enough radioactive material in the trunks of their rented cars to build two so-called dirty bombs.

The exercises, conducted on Dec. 14 at unidentified border crossings, were carried out by the Government Accountability Office at the behest of the Senate subcommittee on investigations, which has been analyzing security at ports and border crossings."

Cohen: The Silence of the Muslims

Unfathomable Zealotry--Richard Cohen's latest WaPo column: "What strikes me about the threat to execute Abdul Rahman, the Afghan who converted to Christianity, is not that Afghanistan remains deeply medieval and not even remotely the democracy that George W. Bush would like it to be, but that with the exception of the (largely) Christian West, the rest of the world has been mostly silent. The Americans have protested, the Brits have protested, the Vatican has protested and so (I assume) have some others. But if there has been a holler of protest from anywhere in the Muslim world, it has not reached my ears. That is appalling.

The murder of a person for his religious belief ought to be inconceivable. It is something we in the West stopped accepting hundreds of years ago, and while Americans and others continued to kill on account of race deep into the past century, the right of the government to take a life on account of religion has not even been argued in the longest time. We are way beyond that."

Monday, March 27, 2006

Street Prophets: We Want the Airwaves

Street Prophets reports on a new UCC/Media Matters effort: "A recent study completed by Media Matters concludes what we have long known to be true: the networks favor the right-wing extremists.

In this particular study, an analysis of guests on Sunday Morning talk shows revealed a pronounced bias in the percentage of conservative pundits versus progressives. In fact, the report shows that the networks frequently allow these shows to be used to attacks progressives and their ideas.

Why do James Dobson, Franklin Graham, Al Moehler [sic], Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell warrant seemingly endless coverage when ministries of the United Church of Christ, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, among others, rarely receive a single mention?

Networks can't play favorites. Mainline religious communities like the UCC have a right to be heard along with everyone else. So, starting today, we are reaching out to all of you once again and asking for your help to demand equal access to the air waves from the networks."

Reuters: Iraq ruling Shi'ites demand control over security

Reuters AlertNet - This can't be good news: "Iraq's ruling Shi'ite Islamist Alliance bloc demanded on Monday that U.S. forces return control of security to the Iraqi government after what it called 'cold-blooded' killings by troops of unarmed people in a mosque.

'The Alliance calls for a rapid restoration of (control of) security matters to the Iraqi government,' Jawad al-Maliki, a senior Alliance spokesman and ally of Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, told a news conference.

God is Still Speaking: The Ad the Networks Don't Want You to See

God is Still Speaking: The Ad the Networks Don't Want You to See The United Church of Christ has another courageous spot that you might never see on TV.

BATCOTE: Tancredo's back

Born at the Crest of the Empire: Mike has some links to Tom Tancredo's latest idiocies, and adds this warning to which I say "amen": "I'm probably going to be writing alot about the immigration debate this week because racism drives me apeshit crazy, and the Republicans pushing immigration as a campaign issue litter their appeal with racist language."

NYT: It's True--Bush Was Set on Path to War, Memo by British Adviser Says

Bush Was Set on Path to War, Memo by British Adviser Says - New York Times: "In the weeks before the United States-led invasion of Iraq, as the United States and Britain pressed for a second United Nations resolution condemning Iraq, President Bush's public ultimatum to Saddam Hussein was blunt: Disarm or face war.

But behind closed doors, the president was certain that war was inevitable. During a private two-hour meeting in the Oval Office on Jan. 31, 2003, he made clear to Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain that he was determined to invade Iraq without the second resolution, or even if international arms inspectors failed to find unconventional weapons, said a confidential memo about the meeting written by Mr. Blair's top foreign policy adviser and reviewed by The New York Times.

'Our diplomatic strategy had to be arranged around the military planning,' David Manning, Mr. Blair's chief foreign policy adviser at the time, wrote in the memo that summarized the discussion between Mr. Bush, Mr. Blair and six of their top aides.

'The start date for the military campaign was now penciled in for 10 March,' Mr. Manning wrote, paraphrasing the president. 'This was when the bombing would begin.'

The timetable came at an important diplomatic moment. Five days after the Bush-Blair meeting, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell was scheduled to appear before the United Nations to present the American evidence that Iraq posed a threat to world security by hiding unconventional weapons.

Although the United States and Britain aggressively sought a second United Nations resolution against Iraq — which they failed to obtain — the president said repeatedly that he did not believe he needed it for an invasion.

Stamped 'extremely sensitive,' the five-page memorandum, which was circulated among a handful of Mr. Blair's most senior aides, had not been made public. Several highlights were first published in January in the book 'Lawless World,' which was written by a British lawyer and international law professor, Philippe Sands. In early February, Channel 4 in London first broadcast several excerpts from the memo.

Since then, The New York Times has reviewed the five-page memo in its entirety. While the president's sentiments about invading Iraq were known at the time, the previously unreported material offers an unfiltered view of two leaders on the brink of war, yet supremely confident."

Sunday, March 26, 2006

TIME.com: Both Houses of Congress to go Dem?

TIME.com: Republicans on the Run: "The midterm contests in a President's second term are almost always treacherous, but this time around, Republicans thought it would be different. The 2006 elections, coming on top of their gains in 2002 and 2004, would make history and perhaps even cement a g.o.p. majority in Congress for a generation. George W. Bush's credibility on national security and the states' aggressive gerrymandering, they believed, had turned the vast majority of districts into fortresses for incumbents. But that's not turning out to be the case. In recent weeks, a startling realization has begun to take hold: if the elections were held today, top strategists of both parties say privately, the Republicans would probably lose the 15 seats they need to keep control of the House of Representatives and could come within a seat or two of losing the Senate as well. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who masterminded the 1994 elections that brought Republicans to power on promises of revolutionizing the way Washington is run, told Time that his party has so bungled the job of governing that the best campaign slogan for Democrats today could be boiled down to just two words: 'Had enough?'"

Tucker: Working class fight war while well-off defend it

Cynthia Tucker in the AJC - ajc.com: "Military recruits are pulled largely from the nation's working class --- from those whose prospects are less than stellar, from high school graduates who know they have little chance of affording college tuition, from young parents whose civilian jobs don't come with health insurance. Enlisted men and women tend to come from households earning between $32,000 and $33,500, according to a 1999 Defense Department study. (The median American income is $43,300.)

This is not a truth the middle class is eager to confront. Each time I write a column about the disproportionate burden borne by our working-class men and women, I get countless angry letters and e-mails --- tirades from the affluent denouncing me for fomenting race-consciousness (I've said nothing about race) or class warfare. Others write to me that they know somebody whose son or daughter or nephew or co-worker is a college graduate who volunteered to serve. (That's the exception that proves the rule.) We don't want to admit that we've left the burden of defending an affluent nation to those who enjoy less of its affluence. That's too ugly to think about.

Ah, but they volunteered, you say. Yes, they did. All the more reason to honor their commitment by making sure they aren't cannon fodder in a dubious cause. They took to heart the shopworn platitudes and easy slogans about duty and honor and service while many who are wealthier did not. Soldiers shouldn't be ill-used simply because they believed in their country and its leaders.

And they have been ill-used. They were sent to war on a pretext --- that Saddam was linked to Sept. 11 --- by civilian leaders who refused to plan for anything but quick and certain victory.

Of course, combat veterans were rare among the armchair hawks in Congress and the White House who rallied the nation for war. Vice President Dick Cheney has said he had 'other priorities' during the Vietnam War. And, President Bush . . . well, that story is well-known. Even if you credit him with conscientiousness and brilliance as a National Guard pilot, he never left the United States."

Saturday, March 25, 2006

AP: Immigration Rallies Draw Thousands Nationwide

My Way News - Immigration Rallies Draw Thousands Nationwide: "Thousands of people across the country protested Friday against legislation cracking down on illegal immigrants, with demonstrators in such cities as Los Angeles, Phoenix and Atlanta staging school walkouts, marches and work stoppages.

Congress is considering bills that would make it a felony to be illegally in the United States, impose new penalties on employers who hire illegal immigrants and erect fences along one-third of the U.S.-Mexican border. The proposals have angered many Hispanics."

Think Progress: Matthews Rips Bush For Misleading Nation; White House Praises Matthews

Think Progress: "Given Matthews’ stinging salvos against the Bush administration, we were anxious to see how White House Communications Director Nicolle Wallace would respond tonight on Hardball."

The Raw Story: Delta Force founder: Bush may have started World War III

The Raw Story | Delta Force founder: Bush may have started World War III: "Q: What's your assessment of the war in Iraq?

A: Utter debacle. But it had to be from the very first. The reasons were wrong. The reasons of this administration for taking this nation to war were not what they stated. (Army Gen.) Tommy Franks was brow-beaten and ... pursued warfare that he knew strategically was wrong in the long term. That's why he retired immediately afterward. His own staff could tell him what was going to happen afterward.

We have fomented civil war in Iraq. We have probably fomented internecine war in the Muslim world between the Shias and the Sunnis, and I think Bush may well have started the third world war, all for their own personal policies."

Daily Kos: Joe Wilson SLAMS Neocons

Daily Kos: Joe Wilson expresses a few thoughts about the administration: "Ambassador Joe Wilson spoke at Florida State University Monday night and pulled no punches, to put it lightly. Wilson pounded the shit out of the Neoconservatives, George W. Bush, Rumsfeld, Khalilzad, Condoleeza Rice, and the rest of the gang and, quite frankly, surprised me with the extent he allowed his anger and frustration to play out to a live audience. Nobody was spared.....not BushCo, not Ken Mehlman, not Ann Coulter, not David Dreier.....he took the entire Bush Cult movement to the woodshed.

Wilson basically took a baseball bat to the face of the entire Neocon GOP movement and named names up and down the list."

AMERICAblog: Updates on Domenech, the pathological plagiarist

AMERICAblog has the latest on the WaPo's red debacle, which is so outrageous it's almost hilarious.

AJC: New Marine unit coping with somber duty

From ajc.com: "Sorrow and dignity: Georgia-based Marine reservists in the war zone treat the remains of U.S. troops as if they were family."

Fascinating but very sad story about how the new Marine unit that cares for soldiers' remains is doing. They must force themselves not to be emotionally involved, but it gets to them at times. Can you imagine how this will affect them for years to come?

AJC: Is the Wild West returning?

Georgia joins a slew of other states allowing people to carry guns and protect themselves if they feel they are threatened... from ajc.com: "Georgians would be free to shoot muggers, carjackers and other attackers without fear of being prosecuted or sued under a National Rifle Association-backed bill that won final legislative approval Friday.

Called the 'stand your ground' bill by supporters and the 'shoot first' measure by opponents, Senate Bill 396 is patterned on a law enacted last year in Florida and is similar to measures sweeping through legislatures in at least 15 other states.

The Georgia House approved the bill 115-42 on Friday, after the Senate approved it last month. It now goes to Gov. Sonny Perdue, who is expected to sign it into law.

The bill extends Georgians' right to use deadly force to defend themselves, now restricted to a person's home and car, to public places such as parks, sidewalks and parking lots. The bill requires that the person justify that they were at risk of serious bodily injury or death. It also indicates that citizens have no duty to retreat if attacked, a matter upon which the law is currently silent.

Champions of the bill argue that Georgians should have a right to defend themselves in public as well as at home, and dismissed charges that the measure will lead to gunbattles in the streets.

Critics insist the bill encourages violence, rather than peaceful resolution of conflicts. They also argue that most of the bill's provisions are in current law or case law and that the measure is election-year grandstanding."

Friday, March 24, 2006

AMERICAblog: Bush thumbs nose at Congress again over the Patriot Act

AMERICAblog: John links to the story: "Bush added an addendum (which he legally can't do) when signing the Patriot Act this time around, saying that he doesn't have to obey its language requiring him to keep Congress informed.

That is illegal. It's unconstitutional. You can't do that. A president can't just say he's going to ignore the law.

Every senator who voted for the Patriot Act is a chump."

AP: U.S. Hiring Hong Kong Co. to Scan Nukes

My Way News - U.S. Hiring Hong Kong Co. to Scan Nukes: "In the aftermath of the Dubai ports dispute, the Bush administration is hiring a Hong Kong conglomerate to help detect nuclear materials inside cargo passing through the Bahamas to the United States and elsewhere.

The administration acknowledges the no-bid contract with Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. represents the first time a foreign company will be involved in running a sophisticated U.S. radiation detector at an overseas port without American customs agents present.

Freeport in the Bahamas is 65 miles from the U.S. coast, where cargo would be likely to be inspected again. The contract is currently being finalized."

You'd think they'd learn.

Daily Kos: Domenech Isn't the Problem. The Problems Are Conservatives and The Washington Post

Daily Kos: Domenech Isn't the Problem. The Problems Are Conservatives and The Washington Post. Here's a good update regarding the racist, plagiarist, new conservative blogger at Wapo.com.

C&L: Conservative Perkins on Afghanistan

Crooks and Liars has some interesting video with Family Research Council's Tony Perkins: "Perkins: 'Their constitiution and the wording of giving deference to Sharia law is very similar to what is in the Iraqi constitution....The resolve of the American people will not long stand if they know that they are giving their sons and daughters to die for just changing the names of regimes.'"

The fact that Afghanistan--the country we liberated--is about to put a Christian convert to death certainly belies the line that we are bringing freedom and democracy to the Middle East. It ain't worth it. Even the right wing is starting to see that.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

BATCOTE: Is Brian Ross the new Judy Miller?

Born at the Crest of the Empire: The New Judy Miller, Brian Ross?: "I'm not saying it outright, because I don't think the evidence is concrete, but I'm just making a suggestion that this might be something to watch.

In the last month his stories seem to be coinciding with the messages out of the White House."

Mike's got a point.

Daily Kos: Washington Post's New Conservative Voice a Plagiarist: It's Now a Blood Bath

Daily Kos: Washington Post's New Conservative Voice a Plagiarist: It's Now a Blood Bath: "This Washington Post thing is rapidly becoming a blood bath. We've moved on from Domenech's funeral-day assertion that Coretta Scott King was a communist, or his comparison of the Supreme Court to the Klu Klux Klan. Those are small things. Now it's getting bad."

There are links to example after example of bald-faced theft. Will this be one of the Post's shortest hires?

Houston Chron: Barbara Bush's Katrina donation aids son Neil

Chron.com | Katrina funds earmarked to pay for Neil Bush's software program: "Former first lady Barbara Bush donated an undisclosed amount of money to the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund with specific instructions that the money be spent with an educational software company owned by her son Neil."

Froomkin on Bush's change in message

White House Briefing -- News on President George W Bush and the Bush Administration: "Newsweek's Howard Fineman suggests that with the current 'global war on terror' script bombing, White House image makers are tuning a new script in which the president reprises his role as an American hero by declaring war on faint-hearted Democrats and the unpatriotic media.

'The revamped story line is WATITH (the 'war against terrorists inside the homeland')' and Bush's 'enemies will be different: not just the terrorists themselves, but also [faint-hearted] lovers of legalistic niceties that get in the way of investigations and MSM news organizations that focus obsessively on explosions and mayhem in Iraq, even as they print or broadcast classified information and ask nasty, argumentative questions at hastily called press conferences. . . .

'It takes some chutzpah to do this rewrite,' writes Fineman.

It also takes a resistance to the facts on the ground.

As Cam Simpson writes in Chicago Tribune's Washington blog, 'Repeated suggestions by the White House and friendly commentators that the news media's selective displays of terrorist attacks in Iraq are warping American public opinion' are belied by the U.S. State Department's own recent Country Report on Human Rights Practices for Iraq ."

C&L: Feingold does the Daily Show

Crooks and Liars has some video. Check it out.

AMERICAblog: Bush and the apocalypse

AMERICAblog: John points out Arianna's take on Bush's non-answer in Cleveland about the end-times theology that marks much of his administration, and adds his own: "Bush was asked yesterday about whether he believed we were in the end of times, the Biblical period that marks the appearance of the Rapture (i.e., good people rise to heaven, bad people stay on earth). The audience broke into pretty loud laughter, clearly mocking the question, and Bush smirked and hemmed and hawed, clearly uncomfortable."

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

HuffPo's Bob Cesca: WAH! The President Fielded Tough Questions For Once. WAH!

Bob Cesca has a great review of the Helen Thomas/Bush brouhaha: "In case you've just recently picked up on the president's incompetence as a leader and decision-maker, then ahoy! Welcome aboard! We missed you back in November 2004, but we're glad to have you now.

I realize that there's a multitude of reasons why President Bush is the worst president in modern history.
The list grows longer practically by the second. So rather than enumerating the litany of reasons, let's go back to yesterday's press conference in which the president fielded a question from Helen Thomas for the first time in years. Everything you need to know about President Bush's incompetence is pretty much summed up in that exchange."

First Draft - An Offering

First Draft has some incredible video from the other day in the 9th Ward in NOLA.

President Twitchy

blogenlust.net has Bush's latest jerk (hat tip to AmericaBlog). First he did his jaw, now he's doing his whole head. What's up with that?

C&L: NBC reporter says, no, it's actually WORSE in Iraq than we're showing

Crooks and Liars has the video from this morning's Today: "NBC covered the many complaints from the right wing noise machine (Laura Ingaham) in their efforts to blame the media for the failures of the Bush administration in Iraq. Richard Engel files a report on what it's like to be a reporter in Iraq on The 'TODAY SHOW,' this morning."

Think Progress: Bringing Freedom to Afghanistan, except for religion

Think Progress: Bush Ignored Concerns About Afghan Constitution, Praised It For Protecting “Freedom of Religion”: "In Afghanistan, a man named Abdul Rahman has been put on trial for converting to Christianity. For his crime, he could be put to death. The incident, which has caused an international uproar, has its roots in the Afghan constitution.

Shortly after its passage, however, President Bush praised the Afghan constitution as protecting freedom of religion. President Bush, 1/23/04:

We’re making good progress, we really are, in parts of the world. Afghanistan has now got a constitution which talks about freedom of religion and talks about women’s rights.

But President Bush was warned by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom — an independent government entity – that the Afghan constitution failed to protect freedom of religion."

TheStar.com - How to spot a baby conservative

The Toronto Star reports on a fascinating study of 100 kids over the past 20 years--the whiny ones become conservative: "In the 1960s Jack Block and his wife and fellow professor Jeanne Block (now deceased) began tracking more than 100 nursery school kids as part of a general study of personality. The kids' personalities were rated at the time by teachers and assistants who had known them for months. There's no reason to think political bias skewed the ratings — the investigators were not looking at political orientation back then. Even if they had been, it's unlikely that 3- and 4-year-olds would have had much idea about their political leanings.

A few decades later, Block followed up with more surveys, looking again at personality, and this time at politics, too. The whiny kids tended to grow up conservative, and turned into rigid young adults who hewed closely to traditional gender roles and were uncomfortable with ambiguity.

The confident kids turned out liberal and were still hanging loose, turning into bright, non-conforming adults with wide interests. The girls were still outgoing, but the young men tended to turn a little introspective.

Block admits in his paper that liberal Berkeley is not representative of the whole country. But within his sample, he says, the results hold. He reasons that insecure kids look for the reassurance provided by tradition and authority, and find it in conservative politics. The more confident kids are eager to explore alternatives to the way things are, and find liberal politics more congenial.

In a society that values self-confidence and out-goingness, it's a mostly flattering picture for liberals. It also runs contrary to the American stereotype of wimpy liberals and strong conservatives."

Episcopal Bishops Tackle Racism, Again

The Sin of Racism: A Call to Covenant
A Pastoral Letter from the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church March 2006

We, the bishops of the Episcopal Church, acknowledged the painful reality of the consequences of racism in the 1994 pastoral letter "the Sin of Racism." In that letter, we stated "the essence of racism is prejudice coupled with power. It is rooted in the sin of pride and exclusivity which assumes 'that I and my kind are superior to others and therefore deserve special privileges.'" We issue this new pastoral on the pervasive sin that continues to plague our common life in the church and in our culture. We acknowledge our participation in this sin and we lament its corrosive effects on our lives. We repent of this sin, and ask God's grace and forgiveness.

When Jesus entered the synagogue in his first public act of ministry (Luke 4), he read from the prophet Isaiah. The vision proclaimed is known as the desire of God, the peaceable kingdom, a society of justice and shalom, or the city set on a hill. It is an icon of what God intends for all creation ­ that human beings live in justice and peace with one another, that the poor are fed and housed and clothed, the ill are healed, prisoners set free, and that the whole created order is restored to right relationship. That vision is our goal and vocation as Christians.

The fundamental truth undergirding this vision is that all are made in the image of God. It is in our diversity that we discover the fullness of that image. If we judge one class or race or gender better than another, we violate that desire and intent of God. And when our social and cultural systems exacerbate or codify such judgments, we do violence to that which God has made. Racism is a radical affront to the good gift of God, both in the creation described in Genesis, and in the reality of the Incarnation. Jesus came among us to bring an end to that which divides us, as Paul so clearly identifies in Galatians 3:28, "in Christ there is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female."

Whenever individual or community behaviors work against God's vision, we have promised to respond in ways that will serve to heal: "Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being? I will with God's help (BCP p 305)." God has created us with skins of many colors, God has created us in thousands of tribes and languages, and none is adjudged more godly than another. It is our behavior that gives evidence of godliness, not the color of our skin.

The world has witnessed the evil of institutionalized racism and classism in the United States in the aftermath of the hurricanes of 2005. The poor and persons of color were often served last -- or not at all -- while wealthy and privileged residents had greater resources to escape the immediate danger of the hurricanes and begin the process of rebuilding. We are all shamed by the sin of racism in the reality of inequity in housing, employment, educational and healthcare opportunities, and the disaster response.

This House of Bishops, meeting in Hendersonville, North Carolina on 21 March 2006, which is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, commit ourselves as bishops to discern and confess our own prejudice and complicity in the pervasive sin of racism, to confront it, and make amends for it in intentional ways every time we gather as a House. We ask the Holy Spirit to empower the House to fully live into this covenant, and we invite the members of this Church to covenant with us, in the following actions personally, corporately, and globally. With God's help, we will:

- renew our commitment to the 1994 pastoral letter, "The Sin of Racism"; take responsibility to expose, dismantle and heal those situations of injustice based on racism;
- seek forgiveness for our lack of charity and consciousness in recognizing those situations which degrade the image of God in our neighbors;
- make amends for our undeserved position and benefit as a result of unjust situations both now and in the past;
- empower all members of God's human family, that they may live into the fullness of what God intends;
- encourage the larger church to continue and expand its work of education, spiritual formation, and anti-racism training, that all might discover the riches of God's diverse creation, especially in those who differ from us;
- advocate for the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals by the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, our respective dioceses, the parishes which comprise them, and our governments, as well as our own households, that God's desire may become increasingly evident for all of humanity;
- recruit and empower people of all races and ethnic origins as leaders in our church, and as members of all boards, agencies, commissions, and committees;
- dedicate equitable resources for all races and national origins in the funding of theological education for all ministries, lay and ordained;
- advocate for continued response to the sinful legacy of slavery; expose situations of environmental racism and classism which poison and threaten the poorest among us, and seek justice for those communities; and
- advocate for compassionate care of the stranger in our midst, and demand just immigration policies.

Having entered into covenant with each other to root out the sin of racism in very specific personal and corporate ways, we, the bishops of the Episcopal Church, invite all members of our Church to join us in this mission of justice, reconciliation, and unity. This is an expression of our commitment to the fundamental covenant each of us entered into at the moment of our baptism.

May God give us the will to do this reconciling work, and the power and grace to accomplish it.

USNews.com: Newspaper sues for documents in NSA wiretap case

USNews.com: Nation & World: Newspaper sues for documents in NSA wiretap case: "The company that publishes the Oregonian newspaper in Portland has filed a motion in U.S. District Court in Oregon to unseal documents in a pending case that alleges the Bush administration illegally intercepted international phone conversations between the codirector of an Islamic charity and his two lawyers in the United States.

In a motion filed Friday, lawyers for the Oregonian Publishing Co. argued that it is in the public interest to know the contents of documents that could prove the existence of a potentially illegal domestic spying program.

'This appears to be the first case in which documents have been filed with the court demonstrating the National Security Agency's practice of wiretapping private conversations,' said Charles F. Hinkle, a lawyer for the publishing company. 'We are not interested in the content of the attorney-client communications. We are interested in what the government did.'"

WaPo: Your tax dollars at work for the cause

Washingtonpost.com: Grants Flow To Bush Allies On Social Issues: "Under the auspices of its religion-based initiatives and other federal programs, the administration has funneled at least $157 million in grants to organizations run by political and ideological allies, according to federal grant documents and interviews.

An example is Heritage Community Services in Charleston, S.C. A decade ago, Heritage was a tiny organization with deeply conservative social philosophy but not much muscle to promote it. An offshoot of an antiabortion pregnancy crisis center, Heritage promoted abstinence education at the county fair, local schools and the local Navy base. The budget was $51,288.

By 2004, Heritage Community Services had become a major player in the booming business of abstinence education. Its budget passed $3 million -- much of it in federal grants distributed by Bush's Department of Health and Human Services -- supporting programs for students in middle school and high school in South Carolina, Georgia and Kentucky.

Among other new beneficiaries of federal funding during the Bush years are groups run by Christian conservatives, including those in the African American and Hispanic communities. Many of the leaders have been active Republicans and influential supporters of Bush's presidential campaigns."

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Big Brother Is Listening

The Atlantic has a chilling piece on just how good the NSA is doing soaking up just about every electronic communication in America, including this one presumably: "NSA personnel, the customs inspectors of the information superhighway, have the ultimate goal of intercepting and reviewing every syllable and murmur zapping into, out of, or through the United States. They are close to achieving it. More than a dozen years ago, an NSA director gave an indication of the agency’s capability. “Just one intelligence-collection system,” said Admiral William O. Studeman, referring to a listening post such as Sugar Grove, “can generate a million inputs per half hour.” Today, with the secret cooperation of much of the telecommunications industry, massive dishes vacuuming the airwaves, and electronic “packet sniffers,” software that monitors network traffic, diverting e-mail and other data from fiber-optic cables, the NSA’s hourly take is in the tens of millions of communications. One transatlantic fiber-optic cable alone has the capacity to handle close to 10 million simultaneous calls. While most communications flow through the NSA’s electronic net unheard and unread, those messages associated with persons on the agency’s watch lists—whether guilty or innocent—get kicked out for review.

As history has shown, the availability of such vast amounts of information is a temptation for an intelligence agency. The criteria for compiling watch lists and collecting information may be very strict at the beginning of such a program, but the reality—in a sort of bureaucratic law of expansion—is that it will draw in more and more people whose only offense was knowing the wrong person or protesting the wrong war.

Moreover, as Internet and wireless communications have grown exponentially, users have seen a corresponding decrease in the protections provided by the two institutions set up to shield the public from eavesdroppers. The first, the FISA court, has simply been shunted aside by the executive branch. The second, the congressional intelligence committees, have quite surprisingly abdicated any role. Created to be the watchdogs over the intelligence community, the committees have instead become its most enthusiastic cheerleaders. Rather than fighting for the public’s privacy rights, they are constantly battling for more money and more freedom for the spy agencies."

Media Matters - Letter to Wash. Post executive editor re: blogger Ben Domenech

Media Matters' David Brock writes WaPo about their new red-meat conservative online columnist. Well said.

Think Progress: Bush Insists “I Didn’t Want War,” Overwhelming Evidence Suggests Otherwise

Think Progress has the truth behind Bush's statement about not wanting to go to war in Iraq: "Bush appears to be the only person left who believes his own myth that he went to war with Iraq as a last resort. The evidence is overwhelming to the contrary."

Check it out. I happened to hear the exchange between Helen Thomas and the Prez while accidentally landing on the station carrying Rush Limbaugh at lunch today. Finally Bush had the guts to let her ask a question, and he gave the same tired response. Rush said Bush totally shut down all the liberal talking points behind Helen's question "manfully" but "politely." I nearly wrecked my car. Bush's defense was so weak against Helen's tough question--which I don't think anyone else has had the guts to ask. And Think Progress shows how Bush has apparently fallen into believing his administration's own spin. Pathetic.

TIME.com: One Morning in Haditha

TIME.com Heartbreaking story -- One Morning in Haditha: "According to eyewitnesses and local officials interviewed over the past 10 weeks, the civilians who died in Haditha on Nov. 19 were killed not by a roadside bomb but by the Marines themselves, who went on a rampage in the village after the attack, killing 15 unarmed Iraqis in their homes, including seven women and three children. Human-rights activists say that if the accusations are true, the incident ranks as the worst case of deliberate killing of Iraqi civilians by U.S. service members since the war began."

BATCOTE: More evidence of cooked intel

Born at the Crest of the Empire: More evidence of cooked intel: "NBC has a pretty big scoop on Iraq prewar intel. Apparently, the CIA had contact with Naji Sabri, an Iraqi so high in Saddam's power structure that he gave the rebuttal at the UN to Colin Powell's lies for war.

So, this insider, a source so high up in the government, was giving them accurate information, no germ warfare agents, many years from nuclear weapon, and they ignored him. Ahmed Chalabi gives them a known prevaricator like 'Curveball,' and they take that intel to the President who presents the information to the American people as fact.

The fix was in, Mr. Bush supporter. How much more evidence do you need?"

Mike has some other good stuff today, as usual--check it out.

Guardian Unlimited: Archbishop: stop teaching creationism

Guardian Unlimited has a report on Anglican Archbishop Williams' latest remarks (now if only he'd do the right thing with gay rights): "The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has stepped into the controversy between religious fundamentalists and scientists by saying that he does not believe that creationism - the Bible-based account of the origins of the world - should be taught in schools.

Giving his first, wide-ranging, interview at Lambeth Palace, the archbishop was emphatic in his criticism of creationism being taught in the classroom, as is happening in two city academies founded by the evangelical Christian businessman Sir Peter Vardy and several other schools."

60 Minutes on the attack on environmental science

Crooks and Liars once again has some video from the 60 Minutes report on the administration's efforts to silence global warming warnings.

C&L: Olbermann demonstrates Bush's latest lie

Crooks and Liars has some video from last night's Countdown: "Today in his speech in Cleveland:

Bush: 'First-just if I might correct a misperception, I don't think we ever said, at least I know I didn't say that there was a direct connection between September 11th and Saddam Hussein.'

In days gone by-SOTU-three years ago:

Bush: 'Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of al-Qaeda.'

Now-anyone listening and watching his speech back then would make that connection easily enough since al-Qaeda was responsible for 9/11-don't you think? Keith analyzes it very nicely.

Olbermann: 'Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda in the same sentence separated by seven words. Sept. 11th and Saddam Hussein -two sentences later, separated by six words. In a moment Craig Crawford joins me to discuss the fundamental remaining question. Who does the President think he's F'n kidding?"

C&L: Feingold on Rose

Crooks and Liars has some video of Russ Feingold's appearance on Charlie Rose... here's just one bit: "How can we be afraid at this point, of standing up to a president who has clearly mismanaged this Iraq war, who clearly made one of the largest blunders in American foreign policy history? How can it be that this party wants to stand back and allow this kind of thing to happen? And then add to that the idea that the president has clearly broken the law --- and a number of Republican senators have effectively admitted that, by saying 'you know, we need this program so let's make it legal,'- so they are admitting it's illegal. "

C&L: Foxnews.com screen grab: a study in irony

Crooks and Liars has the screen grab from Foxnews.com that you must see.

Think Progress: Three Years in Iraq, a Timeline

Think Progress has an enlightening review: THREE YEARS OF WAR IN IRAQ: A TIMELINE. Check it out.

WaPo: While White House spins, reality is sinking in

Old Forecasts Come Back to Haunt Bush: "Three years of upbeat White House assessments about Iraq that turned out to be premature, incomplete or plain wrong are complicating President Bush's efforts to restore public faith in the military operation and his presidency, according to pollsters and Republican lawmakers and strategists.

The last two weeks have provided a snapshot of White House optimism that skeptics contend is at odds with the facts on the ground in Iraq.

Vice President Cheney said Sunday that his 10-month-old claim that the insurgency was in its "last throes" was "basically accurate" and reflects reality. Since Cheney's original comment, on at least 70 days there have been violent attacks that in each instance killed more than 10 people. Two weeks ago, Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the United States is making "very, very good progress" -- less than 48 hours before the U.S ambassador warned of a possible civil war breaking out. And Bush yesterday said his optimism flows in part from success in Tall Afar, a city in northern Iraq, though local residents there said sectarian violence is spreading.

Pollsters and some congressional Republicans said the administration's sunny-side-up appraisals, instead of lifting the public mood, may now complicate the task of sustaining support for a long-term military commitment in Iraq. The loss of trust, they said, is affecting Bush's presidency more broadly, as polls show his public support at a nadir.

Vice President Cheney said Sunday that his 10-month-old claim that the insurgency was in its "last throes" was "basically accurate" and reflects reality. Since Cheney's original comment, on at least 70 days there have been violent attacks that in each instance killed more than 10 people. Two weeks ago, Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the United States is making "very, very good progress" -- less than 48 hours before the U.S ambassador warned of a possible civil war breaking out. And Bush yesterday said his optimism flows in part from success in Tall Afar, a city in northern Iraq, though local residents there said sectarian violence is spreading.

Pollsters and some congressional Republicans said the administration's sunny-side-up appraisals, instead of lifting the public mood, may now complicate the task of sustaining support for a long-term military commitment in Iraq. The loss of trust, they said, is affecting Bush's presidency more broadly, as polls show his public support at a nadir."

Sunday, March 19, 2006

USNews.com: The White House says spying on terrorism suspects without court approval is OK. What about physical searches?

USNews.com: The White House says spying on terrorism suspects without court approval is OK. What about physical searches?: "In the dark days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, a small group of lawyers from the White House and the Justice Department began meeting to debate a number of novel legal strategies to help prevent another attack. Soon after, President Bush authorized the National Security Agency to begin conducting electronic eavesdropping on terrorism suspects in the United States, including American citizens, without court approval. Meeting in the FBI's state-of-the-art command center in the J. Edgar Hoover Building, the lawyers talked with senior FBI officials about using the same legal authority to conduct physical searches of homes and businesses of terrorism suspects--also without court approval, one current and one former government official tell U.S. News. 'There was a fair amount of discussion at Justice on the warrantless physical search issue,' says a former senior FBI official. 'Discussions about--if [the searches] happened--where would the information go, and would it taint cases.'

FBI Director Robert Mueller was alarmed by the proposal, the two officials said, and pushed back hard against it. 'Mueller was personally very concerned,' one official says, 'not only because of the blowback issue but also because of the legal and constitutional questions raised by warrantless physical searches.' FBI spokesman John Miller said none of the FBI's senior staff are aware of any such discussions and added that the bureau has not conducted 'physical searches of any location without consent or a judicial order.'

In December, the New York Times disclosed the NSA's warrantless electronic surveillance program, resulting in an angry reaction from President Bush. It has not previously been disclosed, however, that administration lawyers had cited the same legal authority to justify warrantless physical searches. But in a little-noticed white paper submitted by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to Congress on January 19 justifying the legality of the NSA eavesdropping, Justice Department lawyers made a tacit case that President Bush also has the inherent authority to order such physical searches. In order to fulfill his duties as commander in chief, the 42-page white paper says, 'a consistent understanding has developed that the president has inherent constitutional authority to conduct warrantless searches and surveillance within the United States for foreign intelligence purposes.' The memo cites congressional testimony of Jamie Gorelick, a former deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration, in 1994 stating that the Justice Department 'believes, and the case law supports, that the president has inherent authority to conduct warrantless physical searches for foreign intelligence purposes.'"

AP: Bush excels at battling straw men

Print Story: Bush Using Straw-Man Arguments in Speeches on Yahoo! News: "'Some look at the challenges in Iraq and conclude that the war is lost and not worth another dime or another day,' President Bush said recently.

Another time he said, 'Some say that if you're Muslim you can't be free.'

'There are some really decent people,' the president said earlier this year, 'who believe that the federal government ought to be the decider of health care ... for all people.'

Of course, hardly anyone in mainstream political debate has made such assertions.

When the president starts a sentence with 'some say' or offers up what 'some in Washington' believe, as he is doing more often these days, a rhetorical retort almost assuredly follows.

The device usually is code for Democrats or other White House opponents. In describing what they advocate, Bush often omits an important nuance or substitutes an extreme stance that bears little resemblance to their actual position.

He typically then says he 'strongly disagrees' — conveniently knocking down a straw man of his own making.

Bush routinely is criticized for dressing up events with a too-rosy glow. But experts in political speech say the straw man device, in which the president makes himself appear entirely reasonable by contrast to supposed 'critics,' is just as problematic.

Because the 'some' often go unnamed, Bush can argue that his statements are true in an era of blogs and talk radio. Even so, ''some' suggests a number much larger than is actually out there,' said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

A specialist in presidential rhetoric, Wayne Fields of Washington University in St. Louis, views it as 'a bizarre kind of double talk' that abuses the rules of legitimate discussion."

BBC NEWS: Iraq in civil war, says former PM

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Iraq in civil war, says former PM: "Iraq is in the middle of civil war, the country's former interim prime minister Iyad Allawi has told the BBC.

He said Iraq had not got to the point of no return, but if it fell apart sectarianism would spread abroad.

The UK and US have repeatedly denied Iraq is facing a civil war, but Mr Allawi suggested there was no other way to describe the sectarian violence."

Saturday, March 18, 2006

AP: Latest on Libby--could embarrass White House

AllAroundPhilly: "Lawyers for Vice President Dick Cheney's former top aide are signaling they may delve deeply at his criminal trial into infighting among the White House, the CIA and the State Department over pre-Iraq war intelligence failures.

In a prelude to a possible defense, the lawyers for I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby also are suggesting that the State Department - not Libby - may be to blame for leaking the identity of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame to the media.

Court papers filed late Friday raise the possibility a trial could become politically embarrassing for the Bush administration by focusing on the debate about whether the White House manipulated intelligence to justify the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003."

AMERICAblog: Is the post shilling for Iran war with Bush bull?

AMERICAblog: John shows how the editorial board for the Post uses a proven falsehood to encourage war with Iran: "At this point, the errors are so massive and so ongoing that this is no longer just sloppy journalism.

The Washington Post editorial board is intentionally shilling for the Bush administration in an effort to provoke war with Iran. It's what the Post did to help get us into the Iraq war, and now they're doing it again. What other possible excuse is there for the Post editorial board printing informtion they know to be false?

Here's what the Post claimed in today's editorial:

In Iraq -- where American soldiers are dying from Iranian-supplied roadside bombs...

Powerful sentence. Only problem? It's not true.

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told us this week that there is no evidence that Tehran is behind the road-side bombs in Iraq. None. Zero. Now sure, Bush and Rumsfeld claimed it was true earlier this week. But anyone who actually follows the news knows that the chairman was asked about this the day after and said he'd seen no proof whatsoever to back up the charge.

But now, a few days later, the Washington Post puts the charge out there as not only alleged by the president (wrongfully), but as absolute unrebuttable fact.

AP: The World hates us

Rallies Mark Third Anniversary of Iraq War on Yahoo! News: "Thousands of anti-war protesters marched in Australia, Turkey and Asian countries at the start of global demonstrations Saturday, as campaigners marked the third anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq with a demand that coalition troops pull out.

Demonstrations were planned for cities across Europe later in the day. Police in London shut down streets in the heart of the capital's shopping and theater district ahead of a demonstration which organizers said they hoped would be attended by up to 100,000 people."

Daily Kos: Feingold Approval Rating Jumps 30 Points to 52%!

Daily Kos: Feingold Approval Rating Jumps 30 Points to 52%!: "Gee, look what happened while all those courageous Democratic Senators were wringing their hands and wetting their pants about censuring Dubya. Hidden in the recent Rasmussen survey was the fact that Senator Feingold's approval rating among Democrats jumped 30 points to 52% on this issue."

Somebody gets it.

C&L: Olbermann and Turley on the Bush destruction of the Constitution

Crooks and Liars has the video of a conversation with Keith and Jonathan Turley about a breaking US News story about the efforts of the administration to shred Constitutional rights: "It's horrific, because what that would constitute is to effectively remove the 4th Amendment from the U.S. Constitution and the fact that it was so quick as a suggestion shows the inclinations, unfortunately, of this administration. It treats the Constitution as some legal technicality instead of the thing were trying to fight to protect. Notably, the U.S. News & World Report story says the FBI officals, or some of them apparently, objected... [W]e're seeing a lot of people in the administration with the courage to say 'Hold it, this is not what we're supposed to be about. If we're fighting a war, it's a war of self definition and if we start to take whole amendments out of the Constitution in the name of the war on terror-we have to wonder what's left at the end, except victory.'"

TIME.com: How Operation Swarmer Fizzled

TIME.com has their take on the big PR brouhaha of last week in Iraq. I'm shocked. I happened to catch CNN the other day when the major assault was launched and it was BREAKING NEWS and all this excitement. It was all smoke and mirrors. It accomplished nothing except wasting even more taxpayer dollars, but thankfully no lives: "Contrary to what many many television networks erroneously reported, the operation was by no means the largest use of airpower since the start of the war. ('Air Assault' is a military term that refers specifically to transporting troops into an area.) In fact, there were no airstrikes and no leading insurgents were nabbed in an operation that some skeptical military analysts described as little more than a photo op. What’s more, there were no shots fired at all and the units had met no resistance, said the U.S. and Iraqi commanders."

Friday, March 17, 2006

AMERICAblog: "Operation Swarmer" a media show

AMERICAblog: Chris Albritton on the latest Iraq attack: "“Operation Swarmer” is really a media show. It was designed to show off the new Iraqi Army — although there was no enemy for them to fight. Every American official I’ve heard has emphasized the role of the Iraqi forces just days before the third anniversary of the start of the war. That said, one Iraqi role the military will start highlighting in the next few days, I imagine, is that of Iraqi intelligence. It was intel from the Iraqi military intelligence and interior ministry that the U.S. says prompted this Potemkin operation. And it will be the Iraqi intel that provides the cover for American military commanders to throw up their hands and say, “well, we thought bad guys were there.”

It’s hard to blame the military, however. Stations like Fox and CNN have really taken this and ran with it, with fancy graphics and theme music. The generals here also are under tremendous pressure to show off some functioning Iraqi troops before the third anniversary, and I won’t fault them for going into a region loaded for bear. After all, the Iraqi intelligence might have been right!

But Operation Overblown should raise serious questions about how good Iraqi intelligence is. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told by earnest lieutenants that the Iraqis are valiant and necessary partners, “because they know the area, the people and the customs.” But when I spoke to grunts and NCOs, however, they usually gave me blunter — and more colorful — reasons why the Iraqi intelligence was often, shall we say, useless. Tribal rivalries and personal feuds are still a major why Iraqis drop a dime on their neighbors.

So I guess it’s fitting that on the eve of the third anniversary of a war launched on — oh, let’s be generous — “faulty” intelligence, a major operation is hyped and then turns out to be less than what it appeared because of … faulty intelligence."

Daily Kos: WWJD

Daily Kos: Kos points to an unintentionally funny quote: "From Newsweek's Periscope:

'Right now, I wouldn't vote Democratic if Jesus Christ was running.' Judy Deats, a Texas Republican, who is standing by Rep. Tom DeLay in his re-election bid despite the fact that his association with lobbyist Jack Abramoff has made him vulnerable to political opposition for the first time in more than 20 years

I'm glad she realizes that Jesus would be a Democrat."

American Research Group: More Americans favor Bush censure

American Research Group has poll results showing tight numbers, but more adults and voters favoring a Senate resolution censuring George Bush for illegal wiretaps. So the GOP brouhaha about how out of touch Russ Feingold is is malarkey.

E. J. Dionne: Can Democrats Play This Game?

E. J. Dionne on the frightened Dems in the wake of Russ Feingold--here's the bottom line: "Turning a minority into a majority requires both passion and discipline. Bringing the two together requires effective leadership. Does anybody out there know how to play this game?"

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Daily Kos: Bush Disapproval Map: What More Do The Democrats Want?

Daily Kos: Bush Disapproval Map: What More Do The Democrats Want? Delaware Dem has an animated map that's worth looking at. And pondering.

The Raw Story: Waxman charges Bush with signing fake law

The Raw Story | Congressman writes White House: Did President knowingly sign law that didn't pass?: "Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) has alleged in a letter to White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card that President Bush signed a version of the Budget Reconciliation Act that, in effect, did not pass the House of Representatives.

Further, Waxman says there is reason to believe that the Speaker of the House called President Bush before he signed the law, and alerted him that the version he was about to sign differed from the one that actually passed the House. If true, this would put the President in willful violation of the U.S. Constitution."

AMERICAblog: The lesson from the Feingold resolution

AMERICAblog: John vents the frustration a lot of us are feeling lately: "The lesson, my friends...is that no matter what you do, Rush Limbaugh is going to crow about it, Ken Mehlman is going to do a mass-mailing about it, and the American Family Association will launch a boycott over it.

And even if you choose to do nothing, all of them will still attack you, claiming that you did something you didn't do.

So the choice for Democrats is to sit on their asses and do nothing, while Republicans criticize them unjustly, or to launch an all-out attack on the GOP while the Republicans criticize them unjustly.

This NYT article about the Feingold censure resolution is simply absurd. As an election ploy, the Republicans want to declare all out the-sky-is-falling war against a straw-man, a going-nowhere-fast resolution offered by one single Senator, with barely any other Democratic support. It's all bull, but the GOP want to rally their base, and lying isn't past them, it's their standard operating procedure.

So how does the NYT respond?

Does it say, gosh, there really isn't much of a story here. The Republicans have been using the bogeyman about impeachment to motivate their base for a while now, and Feingold's resolution, well, it was nice but it didn't do much. Oh no. The NYT rises to the occasion and gives the Republicans a big wet kiss, an article talking about how this one highly-unlikely resolution has revived the ailing Republican party from the brink of disaster.

Give me a fracking break.

And the NYT fell for the GOP spin, like they always do, and ran a story validating something based on absolutely nothing."

WaPo: Bush hasn't learned anything from Iraq

Bush to Restate Terror Strategy: "President Bush plans to issue a new national security strategy today reaffirming his doctrine of preemptive war against terrorists and hostile states with chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, despite the troubled experience in Iraq.

The long-overdue document, an articulation of U.S. strategic priorities that is required by law, lays out a robust view of America's power and an assertive view of its responsibility to bring change around the world. On topics including genocide, human trafficking and AIDS, the strategy describes itself as 'idealistic about goals and realistic about means.'"

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Think Progress: Matthews Received $35K In Speaking Fees From Interest Group, In Violation Of NBC Policy

Think Progress EXCLUSIVE: Matthews Received $35K In Speaking Fees From Interest Group, In Violation Of NBC Policy: "ThinkProgress has learned that NBC anchor Chris Matthews has received tens of thousands of dollars in exchange for delivering speeches to corporate interest groups. Matthews’s speaking engagements appear to be in direct violation of NBC’s policy prohibiting its employees from accepting such fees."

I used to have some measure of respect for Chris Matthews as a journalist and pundit, but the past couple of years he seems to have been ingesting great amounts of Kool-Aid. Now we find he's on the take from big business groups. Though MSNBC President Rick Kaplan denies it, the groups that brought him in say they paid big bucks. Sleazy.

C&L: Boston Legal Rocks

Crooks and Liars has a video clip from one of my FAVORITE TV shows... which I had to miss last night (and now I'm really sorry I did): "emailer CS: 'James Spader's character gives such a fiery and passionate speech about the lies, mistruths and unethical behavior of this Administration that it made me jump from the couch and yell triumphantly at my TV. Covered everything from lies on WMD, to torture, Abu Ghirab, Guantanamo, and, most importantly, illegal wiretapping.'"

AMERICAblog: Why the new Abu Ghraib photos matter

AMERICAblog: John in DC: "The top Republican radio show host, Rush Limbaugh, who his listened to and revered by millions of Republicans, said that what took place at Abu Ghraib was nothing more than a fraternity prank, and commended the work at Abu Ghraib as 'brilliant.'

And one of the Republicans' top US Senators, Jim Inhofe, trivialized what took place at Abu Ghraib, saying he was 'more outraged by the outrage' over Abu Ghraib than by what actually happened there. In other word, what really made him angry was that people got upset that US soldiers were busy torturing people.

When Rush Limbaugh repeatedly goes on the air and belittles the abuse at Abu Ghraib, when Republican US Senators are more upset that people are upset about what took place, then the party that controls the entire US government at this time has not learned the lessons of Abu Ghraib.

Leonard Pitts: Dems aren't articulating any vision

MiamiHerald.com | 03/13/2006 | Don't assume Obama will be a modern savior: "Say what you will about the Republican Party and its leader, our regrettable president, but give them credit for this much: They know what they believe and they know how to package it in the simplest, most attractive way: traditional values; fighting terrorism; tax relief.

Granted, some of us think it would be more accurate to describe the foregoing in terms somewhat less simple and attractive: turning back the calendar on the non-white, non-male, non-Christian and non-heterosexual; lying and bungling our way into and through a war that does nothing to make us safer from terrorism; running up a massive deficit while spending with all the judicious restraint of a 10-year-old in a candy store.

But you know what? Tomato, to-mah-to. The Republicans have their vision, and it works. By contrast, can anybody tell me what the Democratic Party stands for?

Yes, I know that's a setup that will have the GOP faithful slipping in their own saliva to offer a punch line, but leave it stand. Because if anything has characterized the Democrats in the years since George W. Bush won the 2000 election, it's an inability to articulate a coherent competing vision. It is not enough to be the anti-Republicans. Those who are so inclined already know what they are voting against. It is incumbent upon the other party to offer an alternative people might want to vote for.

This, the Democrats have, for six years, failed to do."

AJC: Norquist's nonprofit under fire

The story from ajc.com: "A watchdog group has asked the Internal Revenue Service to investigate two nonprofit groups operated by anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, alleging that Norquist improperly funneled Indian tribe money to Ralph Reed during anti-gambling campaigns in Alabama.

The complaint, filed on Tuesday by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, asks the IRS to yank the tax-exempt status of Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform and the related ATR Foundation.

The watchdog group alleges that Norquist used both organizations to help Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff move funds from his Indian tribe clients --- with casino markets to protect --- to Reed, who would rally Christian supporters to fend off efforts to expand gambling.

Reed, who worked through his Georgia company, Century Strategies of Duluth, is accused of no wrongdoing. Melanie Sloan, executive director for CREW, said Reed's troubles are political rather than legal.

'Norquist's problems are Norquist's problems. But Reed helped create the whole system,' Sloan said.

A spokesman for Reed, a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor of Georgia, defended Americans for Tax Reform as 'one of the most respected conservative organizations in the nation.'"

WaPo: Feingold stands up...alone

The Feingold Resolution and the Sound of Silence: "Many of Feingold's Democratic colleagues agree that Bush abused his authority with the NSA spying program. And they know liberal Democratic activists are eager to see Bush censured, or worse. But they also know Feingold's maneuver could cost them seats in GOP states.

Hence the elaborate efforts to avoid comment. Five Democratic senators called a news conference yesterday to talk about the Bush budget's 'dangerously irresponsible priorities' -- but three of them fled the room before allowing questions. The other two were stuck.

'Was it a good idea for Senator Feingold to bring up this resolution?' came the first question, from CNN's Ed Henry.

'He brings up some very important issues,' Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) ventured."

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

MoveOn.org Political Action: President Bush Must be Censured for Breaking the Law

MoveOn.org Political Action: President Bush Must be Censured for Breaking the Law. MoveOn has a petition that is worth signing.

Wallace Retiring From '60 Minutes' - New York Times

NYT: Mike Wallace, at 88, retiring: "After serving as a correspondent on '60 Minutes' since its inception in September 1968, Mr. Wallace said today that he had decided to retire this spring, at the end of the current television season. He said that the move had come at his initiative, and that 'CBS is not pushing me.'

'As I approach my 88th birthday, it's become apparent to me that my eyes and ears, among other appurtenances, aren't quite what they used to be,' said Mr. Wallace, whose birthday is May 9. 'The prospect of long flights to wherever in search of whatever are not quite as appealing.'"

NYT: Like rats leaving a sinking ship? Major White House staffer exits!

Pastry Chef to Leave White House Post - New York Times. Heh.

A couple of thoughts for the day

Bumpersticker seen yesterday: "At least in Vietnam, Bush had an exit strategy!"

John Dominic Crosson (in Atlanta last November): "There is no peace through victory. There is only a lull."

AP: Haters to boycott Ford again

Conservative Groups to Boycott Ford - Los Angeles Times: "Nineteen conservative groups said Monday that they would reinstate a boycott of Ford Motor Co., contending that the automaker reneged on an agreement to stop supporting gay rights organizations.

The groups set up a website urging supporters not to buy Ford vehicles after the automaker said in December that it would continue running advertisements in gay publications. The American Family Assn., which is leading the latest effort, had called for a boycott of Ford last year but suspended it for six months at the request of some Ford dealers. "

AJC: Soldiers' homecoming delayed

I'll borrow Mike at BATCOTE's photo of the day feature with this pic from the AJC, showing the strain on the face of Sgt. Michael Flynn, whose wife has made and canceled five hotel reservations in anticipation of his return home. Read the story: "They were planning a “last patrol” celebration this week. After almost 11 months in Iraq, Gainesville-based soldiers of the 48th Brigade Combat Team were ready to go home.

But over the weekend they were told they would have to put their celebration on hold."

Daily Kos: British Envoy on US in Iraq: Thirteen Words Say It All

Daily Kos: British Envoy on US in Iraq: Thirteen Words Say It All: "'No leadership, no strategy, no coordination, no structure and inaccessible to ordinary Iraqis.'

That was British envoy John Sawers' assessment of the U.S. occupation forces to Tony Blair in May 2003, four days after he arrived in Iraq. Three years ago. The scathing report was loaded into a memo even more scathingly titled 'What's Going Wrong,' one of a series of leaked documents given to The Guardian, which described the exchanges as peppered with 'unusual frankness.'

The memos - written in the immediate aftermath of Mr. Bush's infamous 'Mission Accomplished' photo op on the USS Lincoln - detail a devastating ineptness and indifference at every level of the occupation. The Guardian's laundry list of Sawers' observations include:

* A lack of interest by the US commander, General Tommy Franks, in the post-invasion phase.
* The presence in the capital of the US Third Infantry Division, which took a heavyhanded approach to security.
* Squandering the initial sympathy of Iraqis.
* Bechtel, the main US civilian contractor, moving too slowly to reconnect basic services, such as electricity and water.
* Failure to deal with health hazards, such as 40% of Baghdad's sewage pouring into the Tigris and rubbish piling up in the streets.
* Sacking of many of Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath party, even though many of them held relatively junior posts."

Monday, March 13, 2006

SciFi: Stan Lee is still at it

Sci Fi Wire -- The News Service of the Sci Fi Channel: "Comic-book creator Stan Lee told SCI FI Wire that his newest company, Pow! Entertainment, is developing TV and film projects featuring an entirely new slate of comic characters in 2006.

'Why would I retire?' asked Lee in an interview. 'This is what I love doing. When people retire, they figure, 'Now at last I can do what I like to do.' I'm lucky I don't have to retire to do what I like to do.' "

AMERICAblog: Paul Krugman on No-Moderate McCain

AMERICAblog graciously brings us a nugget from Paul Krugman's latest: "So here's what you need to know about John McCain.

He isn't a straight talker. His flip-flopping on tax cuts, his call to send troops we don't have to Iraq and his endorsement of the South Dakota anti-abortion legislation even while claiming that he would find a way around that legislation's central provision show that he's a politician as slippery and evasive as, well, George W. Bush.

He isn't a moderate. Mr. McCain's policy positions and Senate votes don't just place him at the right end of America's political spectrum; they place him in the right wing of the Republican Party.

And he isn't a maverick, at least not when it counts. When the cameras are rolling, Mr. McCain can sometimes be seen striking a brave pose of opposition to the White House. But when it matters, when the Bush administration's ability to do whatever it wants is at stake, Mr. McCain always toes the party line."

There's also a link that shows that McCain is the Senate's THIRD-MOST CONSERVATIVE MEMBER.

HuffPo: George Clooney Comes Out (as a liberal)

The Blog | George Clooney: I Am a Liberal. There, I Said It! | The Huffington Post: "I am a liberal. And I make no apologies for it. Hell, I'm proud of it.

Too many people run away from the label. They whisper it like you'd whisper 'I'm a Nazi.' Like it's dirty word. But turn away from saying 'I'm a liberal' and it's like you're turning away from saying that blacks should be allowed to sit in the front of the bus, that women should be able to vote and get paid the same as a man, that McCarthy was wrong, that Vietnam was a mistake.
And that Saddam Hussein had no ties to al-Qaeda and had nothing to do with 9/11."

AMERICAblog: Feel sorry for WH Staff

AMERICAblog: Joe in DC points to a WaPo piece about how burned out and tired everybody at the White House is: "Seriously, the fact that the Washington Post gives credence to this 'they're tired' story line is actually almost unbelievable. Apparently, we've entrusted the country to a bunch of sleep deprived whiners. Now, doesn't that help you sleep at night?"

Sunday, March 12, 2006

MiamiHerald.com: Pitts hits it

Leonard Pitts has become one of my all time fave columnitss (especially now that I can't read Frank Rich!). Here's the opening of his column titled "Quoting Bible to attack gays is hypocritical": "An open letter to Donna Reddick:

I'm writing this for Desiree. She's a student at Miami Sunset Senior High, where you teach business technology. A few days ago, she sent me an e-mail recounting an incident that happened on campus last week.

It seems that on three successive days, the morning announcements, which are televised throughout the school, featured student-produced segments on the subject of gay rights.

On the first day came comments from students who took the pro position. On the second day came remarks from a counselor who spoke of the need for students to respect one another. On the third day came you.

You and a few students, actually. One told classmates homosexuality was ''unacceptable in the eyesight of God.'' Another said gays were ``unrighteous.''

The coup de grace, though, was you invoking Sodom and Gomorrah and telling students homosexuality was ''wrong according to the Bible'' because God ordered humanity to multiply, which gay couples cannot do.

Desiree was, to put it mildly, upset. In the e-mail, she accused you of bigotry and wondered how a gay student could feel assured ever again of fair treatment in your class. I tend to agree. She also suggested that you crossed the line between church and state, an accusation about which I'm more conflicted.

It seems to me there's a difference between proselytizing for a religion and explaining how one's faith has influenced one's opinion.

You're entitled to think what you think, no matter how stupid it might be.


But I'll leave those questions for others to parse. My biggest frustration lies elsewhere. Put simply, I've had it up to here with the moral hypocrisy and intellectual constipation of Bible literalists.

By which I mean people like you, who dress their homophobia up in Scripture, insisting with sanctimonious sincerity that it's not homophobia at all, but just a pious determination to live according to what the Bible says."

Go keep reading.

Friday, March 10, 2006

HuffPo: NPR has O'Connor warning of dictatorship

Sandra Day O'Connor Warns Of "Beginnings" Of Dictatorship... Slams Tom DeLay, Sen. John Cornyn... | The Huffington Post: "NPR's Nina Totenberg aired an amazing story this morning about a talk that just-resigned Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor gave at Georgetown University. The first woman to serve on the High Court wouldn't allow her actual words to be broadcast, and that's a shame, because -- based on Totenberg's report -- every American needs to hear what she said. The Reagan appointee who became a moderate and an American icon -- Bush v. Gore notwithstanding -- all but named names in thinly veiled attacks on former House majority leader Tom DeLay and Texas Sen. John Cornyn, and ended with a stunning warning.

O'Connor told her Georgetown audience that judges can make presidents, Congress and governors 'really really mad,' and that if judges don't make people angry, they aren't doing their job. But she said judicial effectiveness is 'premised on the notion that we won't be subject to retaliation for our judicial acts.' While hailing the American system of rights and privileges, she noted that these don't protect the judiciary, that 'people do':"

Luckovich nails it again

From today's AJC.

AP: Bush approval ratings in freefall

AP Story: Bush's Approval Rating Falls to New Low: "More and more people, particularly Republicans, disapprove of President Bush's performance, question his character and no longer consider him a strong leader against terrorism, according to an AP-Ipsos poll documenting one of the bleakest points of his presidency.

Nearly four out of five Americans, including 70 percent of Republicans, believe civil war will break out in Iraq — the bloody hot spot upon which Bush has staked his presidency. Nearly 70 percent of people say the U.S. is on the wrong track, a 6-point jump since February.

'I'm not happy with how things are going,' said Margaret Campanelli, a retiree in Norwich, Conn., who said she tends to vote Republican. 'I'm particularly not happy with Iraq, not happy with how things worked with Hurricane Katrina.'

Republican Party leaders said the survey explains why GOP lawmakers are rushing to distance themselves from Bush on a range of issues — port security, immigration, spending, warrantless eavesdropping and trade, for example."

BBC: Doctors attack US over Guantanamo

BBC NEWS reports on a letter in the Lancet: "More than 250 medical experts have signed a letter condemning the US for force-feeding prisoners on hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The experts, from seven nations, said physicians at the prison had to respect inmates' right to refuse treatment.

The letter, in the medical journal The Lancet said doctors who used restraints and force-feeding should be punished by their professional bodies.

Some 500 terror suspects are being held without trial at Guantanamo Bay.

The US has argued that the Geneva Convention does not apply to prisoners at the camp, who, it says, are enemy combatants who continue to pose a threat to national security."

Thursday, March 09, 2006

AP: Dubai gives up... or is it playing a shell game?

My Way News: "Bowing to ferocious opposition in Congress, a Dubai-owned company signaled surrender Thursday in its quest to take over operations at U.S. ports.

'DP World will transfer fully the U.S. operations ... to a United States entity,' the firm's top executive, H. Edward Bilkey, said in an announcement that capped weeks of controversy.

Relieved Republicans in Congress said the firm had pledged full divestiture, a decision that one senator said had been approved personally by the prime minister of the United Arab Emirates.

'The devil is in the details,' said Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, reflecting a sentiment expressed by numerous critics of the deal."

Crooks and Liars: Vernon Robinson's sick commercial

Crooks and Liars has the video of a real spot for a wacko running for Congress in North Carolina. God help us.

NYT: Suddenly, a Rebellion in the G.O.P.

Suddenly, a Rebellion in the G.O.P. on a Signature Issue - New York Times: "After more than five years of allowing President Bush relatively free rein to set their course, Republicans in Congress are suddenly, if selectively, in rebellion, a mutiny all the more surprising since it centers on the party's signature issue of national security.

In a rebuke to the White House, House Republicans are moving aggressively to put the brakes on the takeover by a Dubai company of some port terminal operations in several large American cities, an effort that moved forward on Wednesday with broad bipartisan support.

At the same time, Republicans in the Senate are wrestling with how hard to press the White House for more authority over Mr. Bush's eavesdropping program, seeking a middle ground between Democratic calls for an investigation of the program and White House demands to keep hands off.

In the case of the port deal, the political considerations are clearly paramount for Republicans and are compelling. Public opinion appears to be strongly against allowing an Arab company to manage some port terminals in the United States, Democrats are hammering Republicans on the issue, and the White House has been unable to provide much political cover to its allies on Capitol Hill.

When it comes to the debate over how and whether to allow eavesdropping without warrants on terror suspects, the politics are more muddled. The White House has had considerable success defining that issue on its terms, as antiterrorist surveillance, and there has been no broad public outcry against it. Republicans on Capitol Hill have been left grappling with how to balance their concerns about granting the president wide wartime powers against the perception that they might weaken a program that the administration says protects Americans from attack.

Still, ev"

Think Progress - Abramoff Interview: Lobbyist Details Relationship With Bush, DeLay, Burns

Think Progress has some choice quotes from the Vanity Fair Abramoff Interview: "Vanity Fair is set to publish an in-depth interview with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Abramoff sheds new light on his close relationships with top conservatives, including some not typically associated with the Abramoff scandals like Ken Mehlman and Newt Gingrich. Some choice quotes:

On President Bush:

President Bush, who claims not to remember having his picture taken with Abramoff. According to Abramoff, at one time, the president joked with Abramoff about his weight lifting past: “What are you benching, buff guy?”"

Daily Kos: Ken Blackwell's Blog Caught Scrubbing Super Secret Post

A diarist on DKos catches Ohio's Blackwell at a secret far-right group: "What is this group, and why is it so determined to avoid the public spotlight?

A little internet digging (mostly facilitated by a post from February 2005 right here on Daily Kos, 'Sith Lords of the Ultra-Right' brought out a lot about 'The Council for National Policy'.

The CNP was founded in 1981 as an umbrella organization of right-wing leaders who would gather regularly to plot strategy, share ideas and fund causes and candidates to advance the far-right agenda. Twenty-five years later, it is still secretly pursuing those goals with amazing success.

Since its founding, the tax-exempt organization has been meeting three times a year. Members have come and gone, but all share something in common: They are powerful figures, drawn from both the Religious Right and the anti-government, anti-tax wing of the ultra-conservative movement.

It may sound like a far-left conspiracy theory, but the CNP is all too real and, its critics would argue, all too influential.

CNP's first president was Tim LaHaye famed millenialist preacher and writer of the Left Behind series of popular books about the 'end-times' and the Second Coming of Christ. LaHaye,like the whole of the nation's Religious Right leaders, nurtured a strong contempt for the First Amendment principle of church-state separation, because it seriously complicates their goal of installing fundamentalist Christianity as the nation's officially recognized religion.

Many members of the CNP are part of the Christian Recon�struc�tionist movement. Reconstructionists espouse a radical theology that calls for trashing the U.S. Constitution and replacing it with the harsh legal code of the Old Testament. They advocate the death penalty for adulterers, blasphemers, incorrigible teen�agers, gay people, 'witches' and those who worship 'false gods.'"

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

BATCOTE: Where are the Dems?

Born at the Crest of the Empire: What's wrong with the Dems.: "There's nothing going on today, and that's the Dem's problem. When there's a dead lull like this, they should be filling it with something. The political press gets bored on day's like this and would just love to jump on a juicy he said/she said.

So, turn one of the lefty wingnuts loose. Let somebody go out and make some accusation, that undercuts the White House's message for the day. Something informal but good enough to be repeated like, 'you know Kanye West was kinda right. I mean, if you look at the programs Bush has cut and his dogged insistence on maintaining the deficit building tax cuts, you just gotta wonder.'

Or attack the Iraq policy for god's sake including an inflammatory word like 'incompetent.'

Don't worry if it ruffles feathers, that's the whole point. The salaciousness of it is what gets it repeated. It puts the White House on the defensive on an issue where its weak and forces their images off the talk show lead. They're weak right now. The press wants you to attack. "

Sheldon Drobny: Save Air America in Phoenix | The Huffington Post

Sheldon Drobny: Save Air America in Phoenix: "On March 1, 2006 our Air America Phoenix station was bought by a Christian Broadcasting company who immediately took us off the air. This was a 'dark' day for progressive talk radio in America. You have flooded us with emails pleading to get Air America back on the radio and asking how you can help."

Daily Kos: Senators let W have his way with them again

Daily Kos: Proportionality, by Georgia10: "The Senate Intelligence Committee voted today not to investigate the crimes of President George W. Bush. Instead, it will create a subcommittee for 'oversight' of the illegal eavesdropping program. Senator Snowe was telling Americans as of Friday that yes, she would vote in favor of the Senator Rockefeller's proposal to conduct a full inquiry into the program. Today, she voted against it. Senator Rockefeller had this to say after the committee's vote:

``This committee is basically under control of the White House,'' Rockefeller told reporters after the two-hour meeting today in Washington. ``It's an unprecedented bout of political pressure from the White House.''

Unprecedented indeed. The administration is threatening members of Congress, it is strong-arming them like never before--in short, like a cornered animal it has pulled out every last stop, every last fang and growl to dissuade Congress from investigating this matter. The inference is obvious: the more fervent the desire to cover up, the more heinous the crime."

Monday, March 06, 2006

CQ.com: Negroponte has plenty of time to be pampered

U.S. Intelligence Chief doesn't have much to do, apparently: "On many a workday lunchtime, the nominal boss of U.S. intelligence, John D. Negroponte, can be found at a private club in downtown Washington, getting a massage, taking a swim, and having lunch, followed by a good cigar and a perusal of the daily papers in the club’s library.

“He spends three hours there [every] Monday through Friday,” gripes a senior counterterrorism official, noting that the former ambassador has a security detail sitting outside all that time in chase cars. Others say they’ve seen the Director of National Intelligence at the University Club, a 100-year-old mansion-like redoubt of dark oak panels and high ceilings a few blocks from the White House, only “several” times a week."

Think Progress: Matthews has a mancrush on Boehner

I was going to say Matthews has a boner for him, but you know it's pronounced BAY-ner: "MSNBC’s Chris Matthews conducted a hard-hitting interview tonight with House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH). The most aggressive line of questioning Boehner faced was over the hotly-debated question, “Is Hillary Clinton a socialist?” which Matthews asked three times. The segment concluded with Matthews declaring, “You can see this man’s greatness.”"

Evanier: Morning After

Mark Evanier has a good reflection on the Oscar telecast: "The reviews might make you think there were two separate Oscar telecasts last night. Some folks, like Tom Shales, saw the one 'hosted with a smug humorlessness by comic Jon Stewart, a sad and pale shadow of great hosts gone by.' Others, like Roger Ebert, saw the one where...well, here. I'll quote him in a separate paragraph since he's the one I think is closer to right...

After all of the speculation about the selection of Stewart as a host, his performance deserves perhaps the highest tribute: He was as relaxed, amusing and at home as Johnny Carson. The assignment is his again in future years, and in one night he positioned himself as the likely heir of a major late-night network talk slot.

The above variance of opinion may represent more than the fact that Ebert has always been a far more perceptive critic than Shales. It may reflect the fact that Ebert was actually at the ceremony, seeing how Stewart went over with the live audience, whereas Shales was far, far away, pouting as he so often does that what was on his TV set failed to please Tom Shales. (Shales also thought that Lily Tomlin and Meryl Streep must have taken 'weeks' to master the banter they performed to introduce Robert Altman. These are two of the best actresses alive and I'll bet it took well under a half-hour.)"

I read Shales this morning and was astonished at the negativity. I thought Stewart did a very fine job. He started off pretty weak but throughout the show really hit his stride.

I also liked the fact that the statues went to a variety of winning films. There were so many great pictures on the ballot this year. Clooney's acceptance speech was one of the highlights--funny, but meaningful.

Here's hoping Hollywood continues to challenge the rest of the country.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

"Painter Of Light" Thomas Kinkade Has Dark Side

HuffPo links to an LA Times piece on one of conservative Christianities leading cultural forces: "A devout Christian who calls himself the 'Painter of Light,' Kinkade trades heavily on his beliefs and says God has guided his brush -- and his life -- for the last 20 years.


But some former Kinkade employees, gallery operators and others contend that the Painter of Light has a decidedly dark side.

In litigation and interviews with the Los Angeles Times, some former gallery owners depict Kinkade, 48, as a ruthless businessman who drove them to financial ruin at the same time he was fattening his business associates' bank accounts and feathering his nest with tens of millions of dollars.


It's not just Kinkade's business practices that have been called into question. Former gallery owners, ex-employees and others say his personal behavior also belies the wholesome image on which he's built his empire.

In sworn testimony and interviews, they recount incidents in which an allegedly drunken Kinkade heckled illusionists Siegfried & Roy in Las Vegas, cursed a former employee's wife who came to his aid when he fell off a barstool, and palmed a startled woman's breasts at a signing party in South Bend, Ind."

C&L: Gergen says Bush worse than Nixon on secrecy

Crooks and Liars has the video of David Gergen on CNN's Reliable Sources: "KURTZ: ... and that is the story on the front page of this morning's 'Washington Post' about White House effort to stem leaks. And it talks about the administration, the Bush administration, having launched initiatives targeting journalists and their possible government sources. These involve federal employees being questioned on 'The New York Times' story about the national security wiretaps, on the 'Washington Post' story about secret CIA prisons, Valerie Plame, all of that.

Do you -- you have been on both sides of this fence. Do you see this as an administration that really is going after journalists, or just legitimately trying to stem the flow of classified information leaking out to the press?

GERGEN: I am glad you brought that up. This administration has engaged in secrecy at a level we have not seen in over 30 years. Unfortunately, I have to bring up the name of Richard Nixon, because we haven't seen it since the days of Nixon. And now what they're doing -- and they're using the war on terror to justify -- is they're starting to target journalists who try to pierce the veil of secrecy and find things and put them in the newspapers.

Now, in the past what the government has always done is go after the people who leak, the inside people. That's the way they try to stop leaks. This is the first administration that I can remember, including Nixon's, that said -- and Porter Goss said this to Congress -- that we need to think about a law that would put journalists who print national security things to...bring them up in front of grand juries and put them in jail if they don't -- in effect, if they don't reveal their sources. "

Mass rally against Thailand's PM

Makes me dream of the possibility in the U.S....: "Thousands of opponents of Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra are holding a protest in Bangkok, vowing to stay in the streets until he steps down.

About 50,000 people marched to Mr Thaksin's office waving Thai flags and shouting anti-government slogans. Police said the march was peaceful.

This is the latest in a series of rallies accusing Mr Thaksin of corruption and abuse of power."

Daily Kos: UK, US to withdraw Iraq forces by early '07

Daily Kos: DarkSyde on the British newspaper reports that US and UK troops will be out of Iraq in one year--which is very hard to believe: "Hard to say if this is accurate. But a complete bail out a year from now--a full blown cut and run stampede as opposed to a facade draw down timed for the upcoming midterms this November--is consistent with what several military experts on various cable news channels have opined for some time now; that the US can't sustain the troop levels and mix of specialties in Iraq for much longer. Not without a significant change in recruiting numbers or military commitments elsewhere. Or a draft.

Two observations if this does play out: 1) Murtha was right, 2) The Republicans Lost the War. Remember that last point when the GOP/Rove machine cranks up to blame the ensuing chaos in Iraq on Democrats or administration critics. It really says it all."