Monday, May 29, 2006

BBC NEWS: Happy Memorial Day...sigh

BBC NEWS reports more tragedy in Iraq: TV crew killed in Baghdad attack: "Two British journalists working in Iraq for US news network CBS are among at least 41 people killed in a day of bomb attacks in and around Baghdad.

Cameraman Paul Douglas and soundman James Brolan died when a car bomb hit the US military unit they were accompanying in the Iraqi capital.

CBS correspondent Kimberly Dozier, who previously worked for BBC World Service radio, was seriously injured.

She is undergoing a second bout of surgery at a US military hospital.

The CBS team was accompanying soldiers of the 4th Infantry Division. A US army officer and an Iraqi interpreter died in the same attack."

Meanwhile, Afghanistan is exploding with insurgents, too.

AMERICAblog: Ridiculous AP story on Harry Reid exposed

AMERICAblog: John rants on the AP's attempt to try to get some dirt on a Democratic lawmaker, for a change--and it's just silly and wrong, as John points out: "What kind of world do we live in when the Senator from Nevada is the guest of the state of Nevada at a Nevada event with his Nevada constituents.

I mean, really now - what does ANY of that have to do with Nevada?

Yes, this is the big scoop of a story just breaking from the Associated Press. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) attended three boxing matches in Nevada as the guest of the Nevada Athletic Commission, the state agency that regulates boxing. Even though this appears on its face to be permitted under Senate ethics rules (it's okay to accept gifts from the federal, state, or local governments), the AP apparently thinks they pulled a 'gotcha' on Harry Reid.

Perhaps my favorite part of the article:

Reid, D-Nev., took the free seats for Las Vegas fights between 2003 and 2005 as he was pressing legislation to increase government oversight of the sport, including the creation of a federal boxing commission that Nevada's agency feared might usurp its authority.

Wow, so you mean Harry Reid accepted tickets from a state agency that he had no intent on helping - an agency, in fact, that Reid was actually working to undercut (in the agency's view). Wow, hell of a conflict of, uh, conflict of, uh, well, it's not really a conflict of anything when you accept tickets from somebody for which you're doing the exact opposite of what they want. That's like 'unbribery' - give me the money and I'll screw you over. If anything, this proves Reid's independence - it ain't a bribe when you take the tickets with no intent whatosever to help.

Now, one could argue, as AP does, that this case is different - you see, the state had an interest in legislation Reid was working on. Well newsflash, the state has an interest in EVERY piece of legislation a Senator works on. If that's the criteria for a Senator never being the guest of the state government, then he could accept NO gifts from the state government ever - and under the Senate ethics rules, Senators are specifically permitted to take gifts from state and local governments. So AP's argument just doesn't hold water.

And in any case, Reid went to a boxing match. He didn't accept a Caribbean vacation or gold ingots or millions in retirement benefits or direct millions to his buddies' businesses, he went to a bloody boxing match in his own state when boxing is one of the major industries of that state - hello, Vegas anybody?

Ralph Reed: Unbridled Hypocrisy

Another Stumble for Ralph Reed's Beleaguered Campaign: "In August 1999, political organizer Ralph Reed's firm sent out a mailer to Alabama conservative Christians asking them to call then-Rep. Bob Riley (R-Ala.) and tell him to vote against legislation that would have made the U.S. commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands subject to federal wage and worker safety laws.

Now those seven-year-old words are coming back to haunt Reed, the former executive director of the Christian Coalition and a candidate for the Republican nomination to be Georgia's lieutenant governor.

'The radical left, the Big Labor Union Bosses, and Bill Clinton want to pass a law preventing Chinese from coming to work on the Marianas Islands,' the mailer from Reed's firm said. The Chinese workers, it added, 'are exposed to the teachings of Jesus Christ' while on the islands, and many 'are converted to the Christian faith and return to China with Bibles in hand.'

A year earlier, the Department of the Interior -- which oversees federal policy toward the U.S. territory -- presented a very different picture of life for Chinese workers on the islands. An Interior report found that Chinese women were subject to forced abortions and that women and children were subject to forced prostitution in the local sex-tourism industry.

It also alleged that the garment industry and other businesses set up facilities on the Northern Marianas to produce products labeled 'Made in the USA,' while importing workers from China and other Asian countries and paying them less than U.S. minimum wage under conditions not subject to federal safety standards.

Lisa Baron, a spokeswoman for Reed's campaign, said Millennium Marketing 'was hired as a direct-mail subcontractor to assist in encouraging grass-roots citizens to promote the propagation of the gospel.'


Reed is running for the GOP nomination against state Sen. Casey Cagle. The old mailing was brought to a reporter's attention by former employees of Reed, who said the support on behalf of Northern Marinas leaves their former boss exposed as a hypocrite."

Think Progress: Sen. Bill Frist on Gay Marriage and Flag Burning, America’s Most Pressing Priorities

Think Progress has transcripts of Frist's appearance on Fox, in which he calls flag burning and gay marriage amendments two of the most vital issues of our time, which must be dealt with immediately... Even Chris Wallace said it was political pandering.

Daily Kos: I Blog. You Blog. We Blog -- The Religious Right

Daily Kos: Fred Clarkson has another excellent diary on the religious right: "This is yet another eclectic round-up of interesting and significant blog posts on the religious right and what to do about it from the Greater Blogosphere I came across this week. This week features posts from Orcinus, Jews on First!, and Political Spaghetti -- as well as many of the usual suspects.

Almost everyone has opinions about the religious right, its major characters, and the latest outrageous statements of Pat Robertson.

I think it is important that we listen to people who know what they are talking about."

Daily Kos: No appropriate quote? Just make one up!

Daily Kos: Walt Starr has an interesting diary--No appropriate quote? Just make one up!: "A disturbing trend in the past twenty-five years has been the creation of founding father quotes out of whole cloth in attempts to appeal to authority by the religious right. The most famous group of these bogus quotes were perpetrated by the now infamous liar, David Barton of Wallbuilders. Among his completely fabricated founding father quotes used specifically for the illegitimate argument that there can be no seperation of church and state are the following:"

Check 'em out. So bogus.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

YouTube - Sunday Funnies (#1) 5.28.06

YouTube - Sunday Funnies (#1) 5.28.06 Great Letterman reel.

A Timely Quote

"I love the people I run into, but I pity them for having to live as they do, and I think the world of U.S.A. [at this time] is a world of crass, blind, overstimulated, phony, lying stupidity. The war...slowly gets worse--and almost more inane. The temper of the country is one of blindness, fat, self-satisfied, ruthless, mindless corruption. A lot of people are uneasy about it but helpless to do anything against it. The rest are perfectly content with the rat race as it is, and with its competitive, acquisitive, hurtling, souped-up drive into nowhere. A massively aimless, baseless, shrewd cockiness that simply exalts itself without purpose. The mindless orgasm, in which there is no satisfaction, only spasm."

Timely, yes. But written by Father Thomas Merton on May 27...1967, during the Vietnam War. I spotted this in his journals, VI.239. (Reprinted in A Year with Thomas Merton, HarperSanFrancisco, 2004).

Will we ever learn?

Independent: Gitmo news gets worse

Independent Online Edition: "The notorious US detention camp in Guantanamo Bay has been hit by fresh allegations of human rights abuses, with claims that dozens of children were sent there - some as young as 14 years old.

Lawyers in London estimate that more than 60 detainees held at the terrorists' prison camp were boys under 18 when they were captured.

They include at least 10 detainees still held at the US base in Cuba who were 14 or 15 when they were seized - including child soldiers who were held in solitary confinement, repeatedly interrogated and allegedly tortured.

The disclosures threaten to plunge the Bush administration into a fresh row with Britain, its closest ally in the war on terror, only days after the Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, repeated his demands for the closure of the detention facility. It was, he said, a 'symbol of injustice'."

Frank Rich: Gore Should Run in 2008

E&P summarizes Frank Rich's Sunday column, in which he praises Gore's leadership: "In is Sunday column for The New York Times, Frank Rich joined the chorus of those urging that former Vice President Al Gore run for president. Rich does not endorse him, but does suggest he is preferable to Hillary Clinton as a Democratic candidate.

The main reason: Unlike Hillary ('a weak candidate') he has shown leadership and not been afraid to stand out front on an issue. Where once Hillary 'inspired passions pro and con, now she often induces apathy,' Rich writes. 'Her most excited constituency seems to be the right-wing pundits who still hope to make a killing with books excoriating her.'

But Rich does not point to the global warming issue to hail Gore's toughness -- in fact, he finds the new Gore movie about that subject a little too much of a campaign ad. What he really finds most positive about Gore is that he raised an alarm about an Iraq invasion six months before it took place -- and then was early to criticize the White House's handling of the war later. Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, has acted paralyzed.
" The Shame of Haditha The Shame of Haditha--it's a sad, sad story no matter how you look at it: "Sparked by a recent TIME report, the U.S. military investigation of the deliberate killings of as many as 24 Iraqi civilians by a group of Marines may yield criminal charges, including murder. And new revelations suggest that superiors may have helped in a coverup"

White House seeks to block NSA lawsuits - U.S. Security -

White House has a very convenient excuse for covering up illegal spying activities: "The Bush administration has asked federal judges in New York and Michigan to dismiss a pair of lawsuits filed over the National Security Agency’s domestic eavesdropping program, saying litigating them would jeopardize state secrets.

In papers filed late Friday, Justice Department lawyers said it would be impossible to defend the legality of the spying program without disclosing classified information that could be of value to suspected terrorists."

Creative Loafing: Armageddon for the Religious Right?

Creative Loafing Atlanta, by the way, also has a terrific cover story this week (also by John Sugg) on the cracks starting to appear in the religious right--and we can only hope: "On Feb. 22, inside a Clark Atlanta University auditorium, Christianity girded its loins with faith, anointed itself with righteousness and went forth to do battle with, well, Christianity.

It wasn't quite a Tim LaHaye vision of the final conflict at Mount Megiddo. There was no thunderbolt-wielding Christ bloodily massacring gays, Jews, Muslims and billions of others who failed to meet Pat Robertson's criteria for salvation. But the scene wasn't pretty.

Sadie Fields, the brittle vicar of Georgia's Christian Coalition, told a town hall forum on immigration reform what her brand of Christianity taught about undocumented immigrants. Invoking Old Testament Scripture, Fields intoned, "We uphold the rule of law. God would never condone chaos and lawlessness for he is a God of order, justice and righteousness."

For the crowd, largely black and Hispanic, that was enough. From the back of the auditorium, Aquiles Martinez jumped to his feet, marched forward and addressed Fields in a voice that trembled with anger.

"Jesus was an exile himself," Martinez fumed. "He lived an uprooted life. He opposed unjust laws. He opposed the religious and political establishment of his day."

Martinez paused and gathered himself, knowing he was on the verge of challenging an authority as stern and unforgiving as the Pharisees. Then the Methodist minister from Reinhardt College in Waleska, Ga., thundered, "How dare you support legislation that victimizes the poor!"

He didn't add, "... and call yourself Christian," but his meaning was unmistakable.

The jeremiad was greeted with a few seconds of silence, then hearty applause. Fields glared at Martinez. But state Sen. Chip Rogers of Woodstock, the Republican who authored Georgia's new anti-illegal immigration law, rode to her defense. How, he wondered, could anyone question someone else's religious beliefs?

"That," he said, "is between the person and his God."

More than a few in the crowd of about 300 snickered at the irony in that remark coming from a member of the GOP -- an acronym that in recent years has come to stand for "God's Own Party." One young woman waved a finger at the stage. "Isn't that how Republicans win elections?" she asked. "Don't they claim they own Jesus?"

Well, yes, many Republicans do just that. But more than a few Democrats are getting the message that faith counts."

The whole thing is worth reading and pondering.

John Sugg: Hello, any Democrats out there?

Creative Loafing's John Sugg had a great column on the absolutely pathetic Democratic response to the gay marriage situation in Georgia: "Just how pathetic is the Democratic Party?

Last week, a Fulton County judge struck down the 2004 'gay marriage amendment' to the state's constitution. The reasoning was precise. The amendment addresses two points -- gay marriage and civil unions -- and thus isn't kosher because the state constitution requires amendments to be single-issue.

There's no dispute that most Georgians want to ban gay marriage. But I'm not sure we'd see the same majority lusting to carve a further pound of flesh from gays by denying them any civil benefits.

At the very least, it was an opportunity for the Democrats to stake out some sort of position. They didn't have to embrace gay marriage -- after all, it's a non-issue other than as a goad to get social conservatives to the polls. (Gay marriage was illegal in Georgia before the constitutional amendment, and it remains illegal now.)

Democrats could have said:

'We stand for the rule of law. The amendment that was passed was flawed -- and intentionally flawed -- to exact cruel sanctions on many of our citizens. Let's do it right, and by the constitution.'

Or, 'We are a party of deep moral and religious values. Jesus ministered to those who were despised by society. The Republicans trample the weakest among us, and rely on hatred and division to win.'

Or, 'We stand for families. Nothing in the amendment protects families. The Republicans are destroying families -- by poor education, lack of good jobs and inadequate health care.'

So, what did the Democrats do? They rushed to kiss Republican butt."

Straight (and Not) Out of the Comics - New York Times

Straight (and Not) Out of the Comics - New York Times: "This year will be a banner one for diversity in the $500 million comic book business. At DC Comics, an effort is under way to introduce heroes who are not cut from the usual straight white male supercloth. A mix of new concepts, dusted-off code names and existing characters, the new heroes include Blue Beetle, a Mexican teenager powered by a mystical scarab; Batwoman, a lesbian socialite by night and a crime fighter by later in the night; and the Great Ten, a government-sponsored Chinese team.

Over at Marvel Comics, Black Panther, king of the fictional African nation of Wakanda, will soon marry Storm, the weather-controlling mutant and X-Man. Luke Cage, a strong-as-steel black street fighter who married his white girlfriend in April, plays a key role in 'New Avengers,' the company's best-selling book.

Comic books have featured minorities before, but the latest push is intended to be a sustained one, taking place in an alternate world that nevertheless reflects American society in general and comics readers in particular, in much the same way that the multicultural casts of television shows like ABC's 'Lost' and 'Grey's Anatomy' mirror their audiences. 'I'm glad we're at the point when they're being rolled out without flourish — not 'Minority Heroes Attack!,' ' said Judd Winick, who has written many comics for both Marvel and DC. 'It's important just to see them as characters and not a story line about race.'"

This is an interesting piece. I'm convinced I learned as much about tolerance, acceptance, peace, altruism, etc. from reading Stan Lee's Marvel Comics in the 60s and 70s as I did from my mainline Protestant upbringing. So here's hoping this new generation of comics can help educate young people today. My only problem is with the extremely graphic violence you often see in today's comics (e.g., a recent Spider-Man issue when his eye was plucked out and he essentially died [long story] during a bloody fight, and a recent Moon Knight where the hero ripped the face off the villain in the midst of an incredibly gory battle that took up half the issue.) I don't mean to channel Dr. Wertham, but this extreme violence can't be a good trend.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

With a Few Humble Words, Bush Silences His Texas Swagger - New York Times

With a Few Humble Words, Bush Silences His Texas Swagger - New York Times. The conservatives like Bill Bennett miss Bush's swagger. Others say Josh Bolten had his hand in Bush's performance the other night. Or has Laura had something to do with this?

Gonzales Said He Would Quit in Raid Dispute - New York Times

Gonzales Said He Would Quit in Raid Dispute - New York Times: "Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, the F.B.I. director, Robert S. Mueller III, and senior officials and career prosecutors at the Justice Department told associates this week that they were prepared to quit if the White House directed them to relinquish evidence seized in a bitterly disputed search of a House member's office, government officials said Friday.

Mr. Gonzales was joined in raising the possibility of resignation by the deputy attorney general, Paul J. McNulty, the officials said. Mr. Gonzales and Mr. McNulty told associates that they had an obligation to protect evidence in a criminal case and would be unwilling to carry out any White House order to return the material to Congress.

The potential showdown was averted Thursday when President Bush ordered the evidence to be sealed for 45 days to give Congress and the Justice Department a chance to work out a deal."

So the AG is standing on "principle"--the principle of fascism or what? Meanwhile the GOP is apparently worried that they're next... what a crazy world we live in.

Daily Kos: Bush's smirk--was his "honest answer" an act?

Daily Kos: LOOK AT HIS FACE: Bush thinks you're stupid This diary quotes a Newsweek reporter who thought Bush's smirky face belied has answer about mistakes in Iraq the other night.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

AP: Bush and Blair Acknowledge "Setbacks and Missteps" in Iraq

: "President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair acknowledged difficult times in the Iraq war they launched together in 2003, but both vowed to keep troops there until the new Iraqi government takes hold. Both admitted making costly mistakes.

'Despite setbacks and missteps, I strongly believe we did and are doing the right thing,' Bush said Thursday evening in a White House news conference with Blair. 'Not everything has turned out the way we hoped.'"

Yeah, their lies didn't come true.

The Raw Story: Latest Plame gossip on Rove, Novak, Cheney

The Raw Story | MSNBC: Rove sources confirm Novak conversation; Fitzgerald turns toward Cheney: "In Hardball's daily dish on the CIA leak trial Thursday, MSNBC's David Shuster said the latest filings raise new questions about Vice President Cheney's potential role in the outing of a CIA agent, and that sources close to Karl Rove confirm that Rove did have a followup conversation about his calling conservative columnist Robert Novak. A report in the National Journal today suggests Novak considered 'covering' for Rove in the case."

AP: Invisibility cloak coming? Cool--unless the NSA gets hold of it

AP: Scientists ponder invisibility cloak on Yahoo! News: "Imagine an invisibility cloak that works just like the one Harry Potter inherited from his father.

Researchers in England and the United States think they know how to do that. They are laying out the blueprint and calling for help in developing the exotic materials needed to build a cloak.

The keys are special manmade materials, unlike any in nature or the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. These materials are intended to steer light and other forms of electromagnetic radiation around an object, rendering it as invisible as something tucked into a hole in space.

'Is it science fiction? Well, it's theory and that already is not science fiction. It's theoretically possible to do all these Harry Potter things, but what's standing in the way is our engineering capabilities,' said John Pendry, a physicist at the Imperial College London.

Details of the study, which Pendry co-wrote, appear in Thursday's online edition of the journal Science.

Scientists not involved in the work said it presents a solid case for making invisibility an attainable goal.

'This is very interesting science and a very interesting idea and it is supported on a great mathematical and physical basis,' said Nader Engheta, a professor of electrical and systems engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. Engheta has done his own work on invisibility using novel materials called metamaterials.

Pendry and his co-authors also propose using metamaterials because they can be tuned to bend electromagnetic radiation — radio waves and visible light, for example — in any direction."

AMERICAblog: VA Scandal grows

AMERICAblog: John summarizes the salient and disgusting points: "1. Private records on 26 million Americans are stolen on May 3 - the employee who brought the data home, where it was stolen, tells his supervisors, but they don't pass this info up the chain at the agency.

2. The Deputy Secretary of the entire agency, and the chief of staff to the secretary, find out about the massive privacy violation - remember, 26 million people's privacy was violated - on May 10. Neither of them told the Inspector General of the agency, or the Secretary of Veterans Affairs himself.

3. The Secretary, supposedly, finds out about the theft on May 16. He waits a full day before informing the FBI on May 17.

4. The agency had been warned for years about their dismal approach to information privacy, yet the Secretary did nothing about it.

5. The only employee disciplined so far is, reportedly, the person who took the data home where it was stolen.

6. George Bush yesterday tells the country that he stands 100% behind his secretary of Veterans Affairs (I'm not making this up).

The privacy of nearly 10% of the country was violated, and George Bush thinks the folks involved are doing a heck of a job."

HuffPo - Arianna on the NYT Clinton piece

The Blog | Arianna Huffington: The Times Blows it on Billary; Bill Blows Up Over Hillary | The Huffington Post: "not only did the Times sink into the gutter, it did it while trying to retain the pretense of serious journalism.

The issue isn't whether Hillary and Bill still lie down together; it's where Hillary stands on the major issues of the day. Especially where she stands on the war in Iraq -- a calculated stance that was supposed to endear her to red-staters but has put her seriously outside the mainstream as more and more of those red staters turn against the war. Needless to say, it hasn't exactly endeared her to progressive Democrats either."

C&L: Cafferty on Congressional investigation

Crooks and Liars has the video of CNN's Jack Cafferty on the hypocrisy of the GOP House.

Think Progress - Desperate for Supporters, DeLay Turns to Stephen Colbert

Think Progress has some hilarious DeLay news: "A good sign that Tom DeLay doesn’t have the facts on his side: the top source for his latest defense against his critics is Stephen Colbert.

This morning, DeLay’s legal defense fund sent out a mass email criticizing the movie “The Big Buy: Tom DeLay’s Stolen Congress,” by “Outfoxed” creator Robert Greenwald.

The email features a “one-pager on the truth behind Liberal Hollywood’s the Big Buy,” and the lead item is Colbert’s interview with Greenwald on Comedy Central (where Colbert plays a faux-conservative, O’Reilly-esque character). The headline of the “fact sheet”:

DeLay thinks Colbert is so persuasive, he’s now featuring the full video of the interview at the top of the legal fund’s website. And why not? According to the email, Greenwald “crashed and burned” under the pressure of Colbert’s hard-hitting questions, like “Who hates America more, you or Michael Moore?”

Apparently the people at DeLay’s legal fund think that Colbert is actually a conservative. Or maybe they’re just that desperate for supporters."

ABC News: Hastert being investigated too?

The Blotter reports on some interesting wrinkles regarding the Abramoff/Congress investigation, which may explain why the Speaker of the House was so outspoken about FBI agents' recent actions with Cong. William Jefferson: "Despite a flat denial from the Department of Justice, federal law enforcement sources tonight said ABC News accurately reported that Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert is 'in the mix' in the FBI investigation of corruption in Congress.

Speaker Hastert said tonight the story was 'absolutely untrue' and has demanded ABC News retract its story.

Law enforcement sources told ABC News that convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff has provided information to the FBI about Hastert and a number of other members of Congress that have broadened the scope of the investigation. Sources would not divulge details of the Abramoff’s information."

WaPo: Libby Told Grand Jury Cheney Spoke of Plame

Cheney pushed the Plame revelation...may be called as a witness in Libby trial. Fun!: "Vice President Cheney was personally angered by a former U.S. ambassador's newspaper column attacking a key rationale for the war in Iraq and repeatedly directed I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, then his chief of staff, to 'get all the facts out' related to the critique, according to excerpts from Libby's 2004 grand jury testimony released late yesterday by Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald.

Libby also told the grand jury that Cheney raised as an issue that the former ambassador's wife worked at the CIA and that she allegedly played a role in sending him to investigate the Iraqi government's interest in acquiring nuclear weapons materials. That issue formed the basis of former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV's published critique."

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

TP: Drudge smearing Dems, as usual

Think Progress - Drudge Falsely Smears Gore: "Matt Drudge is looking for any excuse to smear Al Gore and his new movie, An Inconvenient Truth." He's yanked the Gore lie, and has all but retracted the smear against Howard Dean. He's being unusually creative these days... what's up?

Clergy Group Aims to Block Gay Marriage Amendment - New York Times

Clergy Group Aims to Block Gay Marriage Amendment - New York Times: "An interfaith coalition of clergy members and lay leaders announced a petition drive on Monday aimed at blocking a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

The Senate Judiciary Committee passed the bill on a vote along party lines last week, and the full Senate is expected to vote on it the week of June 5.

About 35 representatives of the coalition, Clergy for Fairness, said at a news conference that more than 1,600 clergy members had signed an online petition against the amendment. The group's Web site has postcards that lay people can print out and send to members of Congress.

By the end of this week, the site should have an electronic postcard as well, said Joe Conn, a spokesman for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, an organizer of the lobbying effort but not in the coalition.

Among those represented by the coalition are clergy members and groups affiliated with mainline Protestant churches; the Interfaith Alliance; Jewish groups including the Anti-Defamation League, the Union for Reform Judaism and the National Council of Jewish Women; Sikh groups; and the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations."

C&L: Shuster reports on impending Rove indictment, maybe

Crooks and Liars: "Shuster: 'It's now been 26 days since Rove testified to the grand jury for the 5th time. Defense lawyers say prosecutors remain focused on Rove's claim of a bad memory regarding a conversation with Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper. Rove's legal team and former prosecutors tracking the investigation expect Patrick Fitzgerald to announce a decision at any time.'"

Santorum is #1 in receiving lobbyist funding

Attytood: Lobbyist money...he's No. 1, he's No. 1! Has he been to any poker games?

Daily Kos: Air America/Talk To Action Show Exposes WAR on Liberal Churches

Daily Kos: Air America/Talk To Action Show Exposes WAR on Liberal Churches: "Sunday 5 PM, Air America aired an unprecedented radio show segment : a collaboration [produced by Isaac-Davy Aronson] between Talk To Action and Interfaith Alliance head Rev. C. Welton Gaddy's, 'State of Belief' : a 4-way discussion between Gaddy and three leaders (and also writers on Talk To Action) in the fight against the far right effort to take over and destabilize mainline Protestantism , to split up, neutralize, and take over churches and potentially even entire denominations.

Enormous financial resources, and the traditional heart of liberal democracy in America, are at stake.

The conversation - a collaboration between Talk To Action, and State of Belief - had no precedent. If you consider yourself to be on the Christian or religious left or if you just consider yourself to be politically knowledgeable, listen to the show You won't find out about the Shadow War from reading or listening to Jim Wallis or Rabbi Michael Lerner of Tikkun. You WILL learn about it by reading Talk To Action and by listening to this show."

Monday, May 22, 2006

Wired News: Whistle-Blower's Evidence, Uncut

Wired News has the evidence of how AT&T allowed NSA to spy on Americans: "I wrote the following document in 2004 when it became clear to me that AT&T, at the behest of the National Security Agency, had illegally installed secret computer gear designed to spy on internet traffic. At the time I thought this was an outgrowth of the notorious Total Information Awareness program, which was attacked by defenders of civil liberties. But now it's been revealed by The New York Times that the spying program is vastly bigger and was directly authorized by President Bush, as he himself has now admitted, in flagrant violation of specific statutes and constitutional protections for civil liberties. I am presenting this information to facilitate the dismantling of this dangerous Orwellian project."

Made me laugh

YouTube - the evolution of dance

Bookman in AJC: For GA GOP, gay marriage is the "issue that keeps on giving"

Gay marriage: Politics still drive the fight | Jay Bookman at "Two years ago, as Georgia conservatives were rushing a constitutional amendment through the Legislature to define marriage and bar recognition of same-sex civil unions, they were warned repeatedly that the measure was fatally flawed, that it was so badly written that the courts would have to overrule it.

'It will be thrown out and then some people will wail that those activist judges have overruled the will of the people,' state Rep. Tom Bordeaux (D-Savannah) told his colleagues in urging the bill be redrafted.

In fact, Bordeaux suggested, the language might be flawed on purpose, so that Georgia Republicans could twice reap the benefits of putting such a volatile issue on the ballot.

'... two years from now, or maybe three years from now, many of us will be back again, debating the same issue, trying to draft new language, to appease those violently activist liberal federal judges," Bordeaux said, calling the issue "the gift that keeps on giving.'

And thus it has come to pass."

AJC: Gay marriage brouhaha is "shameless posturing"

Shameless posturing--Atlanta Journal Constitution lead editorial: "The problem in Georgia government is not too many 'activist' judges, as Gov. Sonny Perdue and other lawmakers contend.

It's too few activist politicians.

Where are the courageous men and women in the Legislature who will stand up and insist that the state should not waste time and money demonizing gay marriage while its schools struggle, its rural communities languish and its underclass deepens?

Who in the General Assembly will say that it's unconscionable to hold a special legislative session on gay marriage this summer at a cost to taxpayers of $40,000 a day, while only allotting Georgia high schools $98 per student for books, lab fees and supplies?

And who will confess that the gay marriage ban was never anything more than a political lever to jack up the conservative turnout at the polls, since Georgia law already limits marriage to a man and a woman and prohibits the acknowledgment of same-sex marriages performed in other states?

Who can summon the moral strength to remind Georgians that the popular cause is not always the right cause, and that the South should know that better than any other region of the country?

Apparently, no one.

Instead, Democrats and Republicans are tripping over one another to denounce the ruling last week by Fulton Superior Court Judge Constance Russell that the amendment to ban gay marriage in Georgia was presented incorrectly to voters, more than 76 percent of whom endorsed it two years ago.

In an election year when politicians hunger for a wedge issue to spur turnout, Russell's ruling had the effect of spilling a pound bag of M&Ms on a nursery school floor. All bystanders can do in the resulting melee is jump back and hold their ears."

Sunday, May 21, 2006

BATCOTE: Truthout apologizes. Well, not really.

Born at the Crest of the Empire: Truthout apologizes. Well, not really.: "Mark Ash the editor at Truthout has issued an apology for the Jason Leopold story about the Rove indictment, although reading it, I'm not really clear what he's apologizing for. It reads to me like an apology for the short deadline on a Fitzgerald announcement, but he seems to be standing by the meat of the story, that Rove has already been indicted and that there were plea discussions last Friday at Patton Boggs.

Salon has a bit of an interview with Mark Ash, but it doesn't really say anything other than this apology is simply an effort to buy some time.

I'm still treating this story as possibly true despite the obvious miss on the timeline. I am probably not going to call it as utterly false until either we have the facts of a Fitzgerald press conference, an unsealed indictment, or obvious indications that Fitzgerald has no more interest in Rove."

Bush Is Losing Hispanics' Support, Polls Show

Bush Is Losing Hispanics' Support, Polls Show--and he's also pissing off the rightwing white GOPers: "Hispanic voters, many of whom responded favorably to President Bush's campaign appeals emphasizing patriotism, family and religious values in Spanish-language media in 2004, are turning away from the administration on immigration and a host of other issues, according to a new survey.

At the same time, separate polls show that conservative white Republicans are the voting group most hostile to the administration's support for policies that would move toward the legalization of many undocumented immigrants."

Anti-gay marriage amendment ruling affects both parties

From GLBT folks are furious at Dems supporting anti-gay marriage amendment: "A Fulton County judge's ruling against the 2004 gay marriage ban amendment may have consequences for both Democrats and Republicans in the primaries this summer.

By criticizing the ruling, which was embraced by Georgia's conservative majority, gubernatorial hopeful Cathy Cox could cost herself an important metro Atlanta vote --- the city's large and politically active gay community.

And gay activists are so disappointed with Democratic politicians' response to the ruling that they are talking of mounting an effort to shift their votes to the Republican Party primary.

'The feeling is, if they [Democrats] treat us this way now, they aren't going to do anything different when they are in power,' said Chuck Bowen, the executive director of Georgia Equality, a statewide gay rights organization. 'We won't have a seat at the table.'

On Friday, the group urged the gay community to reconsider its support of both Cox and her Democratic rival for governor, Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor."

John Lewis is my congressman, and I am a proud constituent

Welcome to AJC! | "No one in Congress today is more familiar with arrest etiquette than Lewis, the civil rights leader who has been jailed more than 40 times in his 66 years, most recently Tuesday for protesting in front of the Sudanese Embassy over the widespread violence and starvation in Darfur.

There's no shortage of congressmen facing the possibility of prison and ruin these days on charges far more flagrant than civil disobedience.

But even by this unorthodox measure, Lewis, the Atlanta Democrat approaching his 20th year in Congress, stands apart. When Lewis goes to jail, his moral authority --- the source of his political clout --- is enhanced. Respect for him on Capitol Hill grows."

Misjudgments Marred U.S. Plans for Iraqi Police - New York Times

Misjudgments Marred U.S. Plans for Iraqi Police - New York Times: "As chaos swept Iraq after the American invasion in 2003, the Pentagon began its effort to rebuild the Iraqi police with a mere dozen advisers. Overmatched from the start, one was sent to train a 4,000-officer unit to guard power plants and other utilities. A second to advise 500 commanders in Baghdad. Another to organize a border patrol for the entire country.

Three years later, the police are a battered and dysfunctional force that has helped bring Iraq to the brink of civil war. Police units stand accused of operating death squads for powerful political groups or simple profit. Citizens, deeply distrustful of the force, are setting up their own neighborhood security squads. Killings of police officers are rampant, with at least 547 slain this year, roughly as many as Iraqi and American soldiers combined, records show.

The police, initially envisioned by the Bush administration as a cornerstone in a new democracy, have instead become part of Iraq's grim constellation of shadowy commandos, ruthless political militias and other armed groups. Iraq's new prime minister and senior American officials now say the country's future — and the ability of America to withdraw its troops — rests in large measure on whether the police can be reformed and rogue groups reined in."

In House Races, More G.O.P. Seats Look Vulnerable - New York Times

In House Races, More G.O.P. Seats Look Vulnerable - New York Times: "For months, even in the face of an avalanche of bad news for Republicans, Democratic ambitions for capturing Congress have collided with an electoral map created to protect Republicans from ouster. Despite polls showing rising support for Democrats and scorn for Republicans, analysts have said Democratic hopes for big gains remain remote, because so few seats are in contention.

That appears to be changing.

Over the past week, a handful of once-safe Republican Congressional seats have come into play, and other Republican incumbents are facing increasingly stiff re-election battles, according to analysts, pollsters and officials in both parties. The change amounts to a slight but significant shift in the playing field, and a potentially pivotal change in the dynamics of this midterm election."

For Many West Virginians, Leaving Is First Step Home - New York Times

For Many West Virginians, Leaving Is First Step Home - New York Times: "For three decades, Donna Briggs has worked at the West Virginia Welcome Center here not far from the Ohio border, eagerly greeting visitors entering her proud state but wistfully watching as much of the traffic flows the opposite way.

'People leave because they have to, not because they want to,' Ms. Briggs said. 'Looking over your shoulder and missing home is something West Virginians know a lot about.'

Ranked behind South Dakota as having the second smallest population growth of any state, according to 2005 Census Bureau estimates, West Virginia has struggled to hold on to residents since the early 1950's, when layoffs in the coal industry sent people elsewhere looking for work.

For West Virginians, the tension between the economic push to leave and the emotional pull to return plays a central role in the state's cultural identity."

Fascinating insights on my home state. I moved away in 1979 and only returned to see family and friends. I've been home more in the past year, with ill parents, than in the previous 25 years or so. Sometimes I think about going home too.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Batcote: Plame Gossip Update

Born at the Crest of the Empire has the latest Plame Gossip - Partial confirmation on the Rove story

UN says US 'must end secret detentions'

UN obviously anti-American: "The US should close any secret 'war on terror' detention facilities abroad and the Guantanamo Bay camp in Cuba, a United Nations report has said.

The UN Committee against Torture urged the US to ensure no one was detained in any secret facility."

Thursday, May 18, 2006

C&L: Cafferty rips right-wing GOP hypocrisy on gay marriage amendment

Crooks and Liars has the video... I love Cafferty: "Jack Cafferty: Wolf, Today's lesson in hypocrisy comes to us courtesy of the Senate Judiciary Committee. They met in a different private room behind closed doors today and approved a Constitutional Amendment banning gay marriage. at one point the thing got pretty ugly. A shouting match, between the Republican Chairman Senator Arlen Spector and Democratic Senator Russ Feingold, who said he was against the Amendment as well as Spector's decision to hold the vote in a private room out of the public's view.

These guys are shameless. Feingold eventually stormed out telling Spector 'I've enjoyed your lecture Mr Chairman. See ya.'

Senator Spector in a real show of courage, says that he is 'totally opposed to the Amendment', but he voted for it anyway saying that it deserves a debate in the Senate. Majority Leader Bill Frist says the full Senate will now debate a Constitutional Amendment which has absolutely no chance of passing. Frist hopes to have a vote by June 5th.

This is all being done by the republican majority in an effort to appeal to Right-wing nuts in the Republican Party ahead of the upcoming mid-term elections. Ignore all of the pressing issues facing the country, and instead go grovel at the feet of the lunatic fringe. Senator Frist should be very proud of himself. That's leadership. Here's the question: Is now the time for the Senate to consider a constitutional Amendment on gay marriage?'"

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Sorry about the hiatus

I'm at a conference all week and it's eating up the time. I'll try to post here and there if I can, but back full time next week. I hope. Cheers!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Daily Kos: Bush Retaliates Against Qwest For Saying No To Spying

Daily Kos: Bush Retaliates Against Qwest For Saying No To Spying: "So, Bush team tries for many months to convince Nacchio to turn over its customers' records to the government without any compliance with any legal process. Nacchio refuses. During this time period, both Qwest and Global Crossing face bankruptcy. Then the government stops seeking authority from Qwest only after Nacchio is forced to leave the company in 2002 when a whistleblower from a competitor, Global Crossing, triggers federal criminal and civil probes against Qwest, Nacchio and other executives. Meanwhile, Global Crossing is sold to a foreign company in a transaction approved by the Bush administration with an agreement that provides US government access to the telecommunication surveillance. Something smells fishy?"

C&L: If Al Gore were president...

Crooks and Liars has the brilliant video from Saturday Night Live... If only!

Experts see new Diebold flaw -

Experts see new Diebold flaw - "Computer security experts say they have found the worst security flaw yet in the oft-criticized touch-screen machines that Maryland voters will use in this year's elections, leaving one computer scientist to warn that the state should have 'stacks of paper ballots' on hand in case of a complete Election Day breakdown.

The machines, made by Diebold Elections Systems, are 'much, much easier to attack than anything we've previously said,' said Avi Rubin, a Johns Hopkins University computer science professor who first cast doubt on the reliability of the technology in a 2003 report.

'On a scale of one to 10, if the problems we found before were a six, this is a 10. It's a totally different ballgame,' he said."

Frank Rich in 'NYT' Defends Newspapers, Rips 'Traitors' in Washington

Frank Rich in 'NYT' Defends Newspapers, Rips 'Traitors' in Washington: "In his Sunday opinion column for The New York Times, Frank Rich, who returned from book leave just last week, shook off the cobwebs to launch a vigorous defense of newspapers -- and an attack on the real 'traitors,' including top officials.

Rich opens by recalling charges of treasons against the late New York Times editor Abe Rosenthal when he published the Pentagon Papers in 1971. 'Today we know who the real traitors were: the officials who squandered American blood and treasure on an ill-considered war and then tried to cover up their lies and mistakes,' Rich observes.

Now history is repeat itself, as the Bush administration and tis defenders 'are desperate to deflect blame' for the Iraq fiasco, 'and, guess what, the traitors once again are The Times and The Post. This time the newspapers committed the crime of exposing warrantless spying on Americans by the National Security Agency (The Times) and the C.I.A.'s secret 'black site' Eastern European prisons (The Post). Aping the Nixon template, the current White House tried to stop both papers from publishing and when that failed impugned their patriotism....

'When reporters at both papers were awarded Pulitzer Prizes last month, administration surrogates, led by bloviator in chief William Bennett, called for them to be charged under the 1917 Espionage Act.

'We can see this charade for what it is: a Hail Mary pass by the leaders who bungled a war and want to change the subject to the journalists who caught them in the act. What really angers the White House and its defenders about both the Post and Times scoops are not the legal questions the stories raise about unregulated gulags and unconstitutional domestic snooping, but the unmasking of yet more administration failures in a war effort riddled with ineptitude. It's the recklessness at the top of our government, not the press's exposure of it, that has truly aided the enemy, put American lives at risk and potentially sabotaged national security. That's where the buck stops, and if there's to be a witch hunt for traitors, that's where it should begin.'"

AP: Cheney is focus of latest CIA leak inquiry

Welcome to AJC! | "In a new court filing, the prosecutor in the CIA leak case revealed that Vice President Dick Cheney made handwritten references to CIA officer Valerie Plame --- albeit not by name --- eight days before her identity was publicly exposed.

The filing is the second in little more than a month by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald mentioning Cheney as being closely focused with his then-chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby, on Plame's CIA identity and on her husband, Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson.

With the two court filings, Fitzgerald has pointed to an important role for the vice president in the weeks leading up to the leaking of Plame's identity.

In the latest court filing, late Friday, Fitzgerald said he intended to introduce at Libby's trial next January a copy of Wilson's op-ed article in The New York Times 'bearing handwritten notations by the vice president.'"

Cheney Pushed U.S. to Widen Eavesdropping - New York Times

Cheney Pushed U.S. to Widen Eavesdropping - New York Times: "In the weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, Vice President Dick Cheney and his top legal adviser argued that the National Security Agency should intercept purely domestic telephone calls and e-mail messages without warrants in the hunt for terrorists, according to two senior intelligence officials.

But N.S.A. lawyers, trained in the agency's strict rules against domestic spying and reluctant to approve any eavesdropping without warrants, insisted that it should be limited to communications into and out of the country, said the officials, who were granted anonymity to discuss the debate inside the Bush administration late in 2001.

The N.S.A.'s position ultimately prevailed. But just how Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the director of the agency at the time, designed the program, persuaded wary N.S.A. officers to accept it and sold the White House on its limits is not yet clear.

As the program's overseer and chief salesman, General Hayden is certain to face questions about his role when he appears at a Senate hearing next week on his nomination as director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Criticism of the surveillance program, which some lawmakers say is illegal, flared again this week with the disclosure that the N.S.A. had collected the phone records of millions of Americans in an effort to track terrorism suspects.

By several accounts, including those of the two officials, General Hayden, a 61-year-old Air Force officer who left the agency last year to become principal deputy director of national intelligence, was the man in the middle as President Bush demanded that intelligence agencies act urgently to stop future attacks.

On one side was a strong-willed vice president and his longtime legal adviser, David S. Addington, who believed that the Constitution permitted spy agencies to take sweeping measures to defend the country. Later, Mr. Cheney would personally arrange tightly controlled briefings on the program for select members of Congress.

On the other side were some lawyers and officials at the largest American intelligence agency, which was battered by eavesdropping scandals in the 1970's and has since wielded its powerful technology with extreme care to avoid accusations of spying on Americans."

US building huge "embassy" in Iraq

Story by Cox's Larry Kaplow on "Construction cranes puncture the capital's skyline as a new $592 million U.S. embassy rises behind the walls of the Green Zone.

When completed next year, the walled, 104-acre complex will be the largest U.S. embassy in the world, with apartments, office buildings, a recreation facility and a beauty parlor. More than 3,500 people will work there, including Americans, Iraqis and foreign contractors.

The buildings are only concrete shells at the moment, but already they carry the symbolic weight of America's presence here: foreign, enormous, expensive and fortified.

Some Iraqis view the new complex as a hopeful sign that the United States will not abandon Iraq.

The more common view is that the construction simply signifies the real power in their country. Over the decades of Saddam Hussein's rule, Iraqis became accustomed to seeing grand palaces and monuments rise in this restricted area of the city."

Conservative Bob Barr in the AJC: Listen up; our rights are at risk

Listen up; our rights are at risk-- an op-ed by conservative libertarian Bob Barr: "Electronic surveillance. Domestic spying. Data mining. Eavesdropping. Pen registers. Trap and trace devices.

These and other terms, probably quite familiar to former federal prosecutors and tired, old CIA-types like me (I spent about eight years with the CIA back in the 1970s), were not, until recent weeks, among the everyday vocabulary of ordinary Americans. They may still not be.

Yet, an increasing number of Americans are concerned about a super-secret government agency capable of monitoring, storing and listening to virtually any Internet or phone conversation in the country.

Why? Because the power to take away one's privacy necessarily carries with it the power to demean, control and even jail a person. Moreover, if the government does these things without first securing court orders, it is violating not only the laws of the United States but the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, which guarantees us the freedom not to have the government listen in to our conversations without probable cause to believe we've done something wrong. Federal law also requires that the government secure an order before it can properly go to a telecommunications company and demand to know the numbers we've called on our phones or the numbers of persons who've called us (trap-and-trace and pen-register devices), or which Internet addresses we've sent to or received communications from.

If that seems to be a mouthful, it is. A lot is at stake here."

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Karl Rove Indicted on Charges of Perjury, Lying to Investigators

Truthout is reporting... we'll wait and see if they're right: "Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald spent more than half a day Friday at the offices of Patton Boggs, the law firm representing Karl Rove.

During the course of that meeting, Fitzgerald served attorneys for former Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove with an indictment charging the embattled White House official with perjury and lying to investigators related to his role in the CIA leak case, and instructed one of the attorneys to tell Rove that he has 24 hours to get his affairs in order, high level sources with direct knowledge of the meeting said Saturday morning.

Robert Luskin, Rove's attorney, did not return a call for comment. Sources said Fitzgerald was in Washington, DC, Friday and met with Luskin for about 15 hours to go over the charges against Rove, which include perjury and lying to investigators about how and when Rove discovered that Valerie Plame Wilson was a covert CIA operative and whether he shared that information with reporters, sources with direct knowledge of the meeting said.

It was still unknown Saturday whether Fitzgerald charged Rove with a more serious obstruction of justice charge. Sources close to the case said Friday that it appeared very likely that an obstruction charge against Rove would be included with charges of perjury and lying to investigators.

An announcement by Fitzgerald is expected to come this week, sources close to the case said. However, the day and time is unknown. Randall Samborn, a spokesman for the special prosecutor was unavailable for comment. In the past, Samborn said he could not comment on the case."

Mel Gibson may redeem himself yet

Gibson inspired by 'fear-mongering' Bush - Yahoo! News UK: "Film star and director Mel Gibson has launched a scathing attack on US President George W Bush, comparing his leadership to the barbaric rulers of the Mayan civilisation in his new film Apocalypto.

The epic, due for release later this year, captures the decline of the Maya kingdom and the slaughter of thousands of inhabitants as human sacrifices in a bid to save the nation from collapsing.

Gibson reveals he used present day American politics as an inspiration, claiming the government callously plays on the nation's insecurities to maintain power.

He tells British film magazine Hotdog, 'The fear-mongering we depict in the film reminds me of President Bush and his guys'." - Poll: Clinton outperformed Bush There may be hope for America yet: "In a new poll comparing President Bush's job performance with that of his predecessor, a strong majority of respondents said President Clinton outperformed Bush on a host of issues.

The poll of 1,021 adult Americans was conducted May 5-7 by Opinion Research Corp. for CNN. It had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Respondents favored Clinton by greater than 2-to-1 margins when asked who did a better job at handling the economy (63 percent Clinton, 26 percent Bush) and solving the problems of ordinary Americans (62 percent Clinton, 25 percent Bush). (Watch whether Americans are getting nostalgic for the Clinton era -- 1:57)

On foreign affairs, the margin was 56 percent to 32 percent in Clinton's favor; on taxes, it was 51 percent to 35 percent for Clinton; and on handling natural disasters, it was 51 percent to 30 percent, also favoring Clinton.

Moreover, 59 percent said Bush has done more to divide the country, while only 27 percent said Clinton had."

Truthout: We're still waiting, and hoping

Rove Informs White House He Will Be Indicted: "Within the last week, Karl Rove told President Bush and Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten, as well as a few other high level administration officials, that he will be indicted in the CIA leak case and will immediately resign his White House job when the special counsel publicly announces the charges against him, according to sources.

Details of Rove's discussions with the president and Bolten have spread through the corridors of the White House where low-level staffers and senior officials were trying to determine how the indictment would impact an administration that has been mired in a number of high-profile political scandals for nearly a year, said a half-dozen White House aides and two senior officials who work at the Republican National Committee.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, sources confirmed Rove's indictment is imminent. These individuals requested anonymity saying they were not authorized to speak publicly about Rove's situation. A spokesman in the White House press office said they would not comment on 'wildly speculative rumors.'"

AMERICAblog: What hath Bush wrought?

AMERICAblog: John passionately puts his finger on what I have been thinking, and fearing, lately: "I was about to post Friday's orchid when I just looked at an email someone sent me. It's from a Web site that claims it's keeping a public list of companies that hire illegal aliens - illegal alien employers, they're called - apparently so we can all boycott those companies.

That, along with Bush's ramblings tonight about wanting to send US troops to the Mexican border, gave me a really horrible realization.

We're now taking the hysteria over the war on terror and turning it into a rather disturbing and familiar war against another race. George Bush and the Republican party have so terrorized the American people, made them so full of fear and hate, that the American people are starting to take it out on the 'others' in our society, with the very happy collusion of our government.

Our government is thinking of using the military to deal with this 'problem' in our midst. Vigilante citizens groups are patrolling the country to find these others among us. Web sites are being set up to expose the companies among us who harbor these un-Americans. The #1 news channel for Republicans is calling on white people to have more babies to stop Hispanic from taking over 'our' country.

Does nobody understand who and what our country is turning into?

We are talking about Mexican-Americans, central Americans, and their families and friends here people. We're not taking Al Qaeda, we're not talking Martians. We're talking rather normal people who all of us know. And George Bush and the Republican party have whipped this country into such a frenzy about these people that we've got vigilante justice taking place and talk of involving the military to - what? - shoot them?

What the hell is going on in our country? How can the majority of Americans not see what we're becoming, and what we've already become? Are we so proud of ourselves, and so blindly confident of the permanence of our freedoms, that no one can even fathom the slightest possibility that those freedoms could ever be in jeopardy? Let alone fathom what those freedoms are even supposed to mean?

What in God's name have George Bush and the Republican party done to our country?"

Friday, May 12, 2006

Think Progress:NSA Whistleblower To Expose More Unlawful Activity: ‘People…Are Going To Be Shocked’

Think Progress - NSA Whistleblower To Expose More Unlawful Activity: ‘People…Are Going To Be Shocked’: "CongressDaily reports that former NSA staffer Russell Tice will testify to the Senate Armed Services Committee next week that not only do employees at the agency believe the activities they are being asked to perform are unlawful, but that what has been disclosed so far is only the tip of the iceberg. Tice will tell Congress that former NSA head Gen. Michael Hayden, Bush’s nominee to be the next CIA director, oversaw more illegal activity that has yet to be disclosed:"

Time: Andrew Sullivan on right-wing Christians

Andrew Sullivan has some thoughtful remarks about the state of Christianity today, from Time magazine:

Are you a Christian who doesn't feel represented by the religious right? I know the feeling. When the discourse about faith is dominated by political fundamentalists and social conservatives, many others begin to feel as if their religion has been taken away from them.

The number of Christians misrepresented by the Christian right is many. There are evangelical Protestants who believe strongly that Christianity should not get too close to the corrupting allure of government power. There are lay Catholics who, while personally devout, are socially liberal on issues like contraception, gay rights, women's equality and a multi-faith society. There are very orthodox believers who nonetheless respect the freedom and conscience of others as part of their core understanding of what being a Christian is. They have no problem living next to an atheist or a gay couple or a single mother or people whose views on the meaning of life are utterly alien to them--and respecting their neighbors' choices. That doesn't threaten their faith. Sometimes the contrast helps them understand their own faith better.

BATCOTE: Will it happen?

Born at the Crest of the Empire: Picture of the Day: "It could be today.

Assuming a Rove indictment, the sequence would be:

1) Rove receives a target letter.
2) Fitzgerald meets with the grand jury to submit Karl Rove's name for indictment.
3) Fitzgerald issues a brief press release stating there will be a news conference later in the afternoon.
4) Release of the indictment.
5) Fitzgerald holds a press conference where he says very little.
6) Karl Rove resigns.
7) The president issues a very terse statement before leaving Nixon-like for the weekend."

Today's Thailand Pic:Touring Samui

Here's a shot made during our loop tour of Samui Island, where we witnessed incredible natural beauty, paradisical beaches, refreshing waterfalls, huge Buddhas, and large rock formations that appear to be ancient genitalia.

Eugene Robinson: An Easy Call: Lying

Eugene Robinson on the NSA's efforts: "At least now we know that the Bush administration's name for spying on Americans without first seeking court approval -- the 'terrorist surveillance program' -- isn't an exercise in Orwellian doublespeak after all. It's just a bald-faced lie.

Oh, and at least now the Senate will have a few questions to ask Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the man George W. Bush just named to head the CIA, at his confirmation hearings."

TP: Jackson to Potential Contractors: Get On ‘The List,’ Then We’ll ‘Just Keep Giving You Tax Dollars’

Think Progress has more from that notorious Dallas speech by HUD head Alphonso Jackson: "Jackson stressed that “HUD provides ‘business opportunities for many in this room to get rich,’” adding that “one contract can make you wealthy.” That was the purpose of the speech, to explain to a well-heeled crowd (including former Dallas Cowboys players Roger Staubach and Emmitt Smith) how to rake in cash from the federal government.

It’s not about providing a valuable service at a fair price. It’s about getting on the list, getting the money flowing and making sure you don’t criticize the President. Whether the details of Jackson’s speech were fact or fiction, it’s a grossly irresponsible message and a violation of the public trust."

WSJ: Bush Dips Into the 20s

Wall Street Journal/Harris Poll results: Bush Dips Into the 20s: "President Bush’s job-approval rating has fallen to its lowest mark of his presidency, according to a new Harris Interactive poll. Of 1,003 U.S. adults surveyed in a telephone poll, 29% think Mr. Bush is doing an “excellent or pretty good” job as president, down from 35% in April and significantly lower than 43% in January. Approval ratings for Congress overall also sank, and now stand at 18%.

Roughly one-quarter of U.S. adults say “things in the country are going in the right direction,” while 69% say “things have pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track.” This has been the trend since January, when 33% said the nation was heading in the right direction. Iraq remains a key concern for the general public, as 28% of Americans said they consider Iraq to be one of the top two most important issues the government should address, up from 23% in April. The immigration debate also prompted 16% of Americans to consider it a top issue, down from 19% last month, but still sharply higher from 4% in March."

With the furious backlash going on now regarding the NSA domestic spying revelations, how low will they go?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Cafferty on the phone spying

Crooks and Liars has the video, and some other interesting links: "Cafferty: We all hope nothing happens to Arlen Specter, the Republican head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, cause he might be all that stands between us and a full blown dictatorship in this country. He's vowed to question these phone company executives about volunteering to provide the government with my telephone records, and yours, and tens of millions of other Americans.

Shortly after 9/11, AT7T, Verizon, and BellSouth began providing the super-secret NSA with information on phone calls of millions of our citizens, all part of the War on Terror, President Bush says. Why don't you go find Osama bin Laden, and seal the country's borders, and start inspecting the containers that come into our ports?"

NYT's Book Critic: All the President's Books

All the President's Books (Minding History's Whys and Wherefores) - Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times reviews the plethora of Bush books and finds a chorus in tune (Al Franken and Tom Oliphant were talking about this piece today on Al's Air America show): "In recent months a floodlet of books has been published about President Bush, his administration and the war in Iraq. They range widely in perspective: there are books by reporters, by administration insiders and by counterterrorism and economic experts; books with conservative, liberal and nonpartisan points of view; books that offer a wide-angle window on the administration; and books that zero in on particular aspects of the war in Iraq.

Yet taken together with earlier volumes, these books create a cumulative and, in many respects, surprisingly coherent portrait of the Bush White House and its management style. Authors as disparate as the Reagan administration economist Bruce Bartlett, the New Yorker investigative reporter Seymour M. Hersh, the Weekly Standard editor Fred Barnes and the New York Times reporter James Risen point to ways in which this administration has discarded past precedent, and illuminate its penchant for circumventing traditional processes of policy development and policy review.

It's a tropism, an instinctive reflex that informs the Bush White House's decision-making process, as well as its strategic and tactical thinking, a tropism that has played a major role in this increasingly embattled administration's approach to a host of issues from the war in Iraq to Social Security reform to the government's policy on torture. Many books about the Bush administration and the war in Iraq — including 'The Assassins' Gate' by the New Yorker writer George Packer; 'The Next Attack' by Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon, former National Security Council staffers under Bill Clinton; and 'Squandered Victory' by Larry Diamond, a former senior adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad — also underscore related predispositions on the part of this White House: an appetite for big, visionary ideas, imposed from the top down; an eagerness to centralize decision making in the executive branch; and a tendency to shrug off the advice of experts, be they military experts, intelligence experts or economic experts.

In retrospect, these patterns underlie recent complaints from more than half a dozen retired generals that civilian policymakers at the Pentagon ignored the advice of military officers, and new charges by two C.I.A. veterans that the Bush administration selectively ignored crucial intelligence assessments about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.


Bush diplomacy efforts score again

Guardian Unlimited: Putin lashes out at 'wolf-like' America: "Relations between the US and Russia sank to the lowest point in a decade yesterday when Vladimir Putin harshly rebuked Washington for its criticism last week and compared the US to a hungry wolf that 'eats and listens to no one'.

Mr Putin, stung by an attack from Dick Cheney, the US vice-president, used his annual state of the nation address to denounce US expansionism and military spending. He also questioned Washington's record on democratic rights. Although he refrained from mentioning the US by name, it was clear that the 'wolf' in question referred to Washington."

C&L: Turley bashes Bush

Crooks and Liars has some good video from Countdown with constitutional law expert Jonathan Turley: "Turley: Well, first of all this President's theory of his power I think is now so extreme that it's unprecedented. He believes that he has the inherent authority to violate federal law. He has said that. Not just the signing statements and the infamous torture memo-that Alberto Gonzales signed. It was stated that he could in some circumstances order federal officials to violate federal law and this is consistent across the board with this President. Frankly, I'm not too sure what he thought he was swearing to when he took the oath of office to uphold the Constitution and our laws. I've never seen a President who is so uncomfortable in his constitutional skin."

AP: Secret Service logs incomplete regarding Abramoff visits

Is somebody trying to cover up something or what?: "Secret Service records made public Wednesday show that convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff went to the White House twice in the past five years, omitting three other occasions that have been acknowledged by the Bush administration.

The visits occurred on Jan. 20, 2004, the day President Bush delivered his State of the Union address, and on March 6, 2001. Abramoff stayed a total of 63 minutes, 29 seconds, but the records do not indicate where he went in the complex or who he met.

The documents are, by the White House's acknowledgment, an incomplete accounting of Abramoff's meetings with administration officials.

Copies of the Secret Service logs were released in connection with a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch, which had been seeking the records to determine the frequency of Abramoff's contacts with President Bush and others in his administration.

Judicial Watch said the records appear to be incomplete, noting that similar logs released during the Clinton administration included more details.

'We therefore have reason to believe there are additional details about Jack Abramoff's visits to the White House that have not been disclosed,' the group's president, Tom Fitton, said on its Web site."

USAToday: Millions of Americans have been spied on by government - NSA has massive database of Americans' phone calls: "The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, people with direct knowledge of the arrangement told USA TODAY.

The NSA program reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans — most of whom aren't suspected of any crime. This program does not involve the NSA listening to or recording conversations. But the spy agency is using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity, sources said in separate interviews."

This is starting to get just a wee bit outrageous.

How Bush Administration supports our troops

The sorry, and scary, truth from the Washington Post: "Four of every five soldiers returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who were found to be at risk for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were never referred by government clinicians for further help, according to a Government Accountability Office report due for release today."

AJC: Silent Rummy protester speaks up

Work to be heard, even without words--op-ed by Randy Aronov: "Last week, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's speech at the Atlanta History Center was interrupted several times by protesters who yelled at Rumsfeld and unfurled banners, an event that drew national news coverage.

But in covering the speech, Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Jay Bookman also mentioned another protester:

'But one man took a different approach. As showdowns go, it wasn't exactly two gunslingers face to face on a dusty street in Dodge City. But there was drama in it nonetheless. As Rumsfeld stood at the podium, starting to outline his vision of the American role in world affairs, a balding man in a coat and tie rose out of the seated audience, turned his back on Rumsfeld and stood silently.'

My name is Randy Aronov and I am that silent dissenter."

Good for him.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Today's Thailand Pic

Here's a shot from one of the island's in Thailand's famed archipelago national park, Angthon, where we stopped to visit the Emerald Lake.

BATCOTE: The enigma of Bush

Born at the Crest of the Empire: Mike asks some very good questions regarding Bush and Iran: "If you believe Hersh's reporting, Bush doesn't want to leave the thing that's not a problem yet, Iran, to a weaker president, while at the same time seems more than willing to leave the thing that is a problem right now, Iraq, to a future president more than two and a half years from now.

I think there's something profound in this about the Bush presidency although I can't nail down exactly what. Maybe it says something to me about their sense of their place in history versus the very real and obvious incompetence in the present. Maybe the difference in self image and total unaccountability. I don't know."

Stan Lee still at it

THE BEAT at has the latest on Stan Lee's new reality show, "Who Wants to Be a Superhero." Go, Stan!

Did media miss real Colbert story?

The Chicago Sun-Times TV critic has a terrific analysis of Stephen Colbert's performance last week (which I missed but got to catch online when I got back to the States), as well as a transcript, so if you're as behind as I am on this, do check it out: "Colbert's routine was more remarkable for its unique and creative brazenness. He joked that Bush's presidency is like the Hindenburg; that Bush's wiretappers were monitoring this very event, and that the White House press corps, sitting in front of Colbert, gave Bush a free pass, scandal after scandal, until recently (when his polls numbers dropped).

How's this for a newsworthy lead? It was perhaps the first time in Bush's tenure that the president was forced to sit and listen to any American cite the litany of criminal and corruption allegations that have piled up against his administration. And mouth-tense Bush and first lady Laura Bush fled as soon as possible afterward.

From whom were they fleeing? A star comedian pretending to be a Fox News-like blowhard doing a sort of performance art that America hasn't witnessed nationally since the days of Andy Kaufman. Even if Colbert's bit had been reported as a train wreck, that would have sufficed. Instead, shocking lines like the following were barely covered by any traditional organ except industry magazine Editor & Publisher: 'I stand by' Bush, Colbert cracked, 'because he stands for things. Not only for things, he stands on things. Things like aircraft carriers and rubble, and recently flooded city squares. And that sends a strong message that no matter what happens to America, she will always rebound with the most powerfully staged photo ops in the world.'

For TV reporters in particular to quote that gruesome line would be an agreement with Colbert, that they helped Bush mix politics with corruption from the ashes of 9/11 ('aircraft carriers and rubble'), and failed to see through Bush's politicization of the drowning of an American city after a hurricane ('recently flooded city squares').

But ignoring a newsworthy keynote speech -- at an event the press corps itself set up -- doesn't go unnoticed anymore. Internet stables for liberals, like the behemoth, began rumbling as soon as the correspondents' dinner was reported in the mainstream press, with scant word of Colbert's combustive address."

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

C&L: Beck's debut

Crooks and Liars has some video from Glenn Beck's debut Monday on CNN Headline News: "His new show started yesterday and I tell you- what a scream it was! Here's a little of the witty dialogue he'll be bringing CNN's audience."

I caught a few minutes of this and was just astonished at how "nothing" it was. He claimed his show wouldn't be about right and left, but about right and wrong. (So guess who'll be wrong? The left, of course). But the production values on the program were very high, with so many multiple camera angles and views and dazzles on the screen simultaneously, it was like they were trying to keep you from realizing how "nothing" it really was. Beck is a fresh-scrubbed Mormon, a recovering alcoholic, apparently, but on his radio show has uttered some really, really mean-spirited things about certain people, like Coretta Scott King f'rinstance. It grieves me deeply that CNN has anything to do with putting this hack on TV.

Jackson Fabricated the Entire Story, Spokesperson Claims, Contradicting Prior Response

Think Progress has the latest in a fascinating story I'm getting into midstream here, about yet another Bush flunky: "A spokesperson for Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson has issued a second response to reports that Jackson publicly admitted cancelling a government contract with a business because the CEO was critical of President Bush."

CBS News: Polls continue to plummet Print This Story: "President Bush and the Republican Congress show nearly record low ratings while Democrats are viewed much more favorably in their performance on the issues that matter most to Americans, according to the latest CBS News/New York Times poll.

Only 31% of those polled approve of Mr. Bush's job performance and 68% believe the United States is worse off today than it was before Bush became president.

Personal evaluations of Mr. Bush are the lowest they've ever been during his presidency. On the public's confidence in Bush's ability to handle a crisis, 51% had been the previous low in September 2005. That figure is now at 50%. The President's handling of the Hurricane Katrina crisis is tied to that decrease. "

One of the blissful things about being in as faraway place as Thailand, with its own political machinations going on at the moment, was to get virtually NO news about Bush or his cronies. The local English language papers, when I read them, may carry some minor item deep inside in the world briefs. It really was refreshing.

Back from vacation in Thailand

Yeah, I'm back, been back since Friday night, trying to get over jet lag. Had a terrific time, lots of wonderful scenery and fun and food and snorkeling and kayaking and visiting and experiencing.

Posting returns shortly!