Monday, July 31, 2006

NYT on House GOP: Cynical Extortionists

Fooling the Voters - New York Times: "The two bills passed by the House last Friday and Saturday reflect a single Republican electoral strategy. Representatives want to appear to have accomplished something when they face voters during their five-week summer break, which starts today, and at the same time keep campaign donations flowing from special-interest constituents who are well aware that a great deal was left to do.

One of the bills was a pension reform measure. The other was a grab bag that contains three main items: an extension of the expired tax credit for corporate research; a $2.10 an hour increase in the minimum wage, to be phased in over three years; and a multibillion-dollar estate-tax cut. That’s the deal House Republicans are really offering — a few more dollars for 6.6 million working Americans; billions more for some 8,000 of the wealthiest families.

It is cynical in the extreme. Extending the research tax credit is noncontroversial, yet pressing. A minimum wage increase is compelling — morally, politically and financially — but Republicans generally oppose it. And the estate-tax cut has already failed to pass the Senate twice this summer. So House Republicans linked it to the research credit and the minimum wage, hoping to flip a handful of senators from both parties who have voted against estate-tax cuts in the past. Democrats who vote against the estate tax, Republicans think, can be painted as voting against a higher minimum wage.

This is an attempt at extortion. There is no way to justify providing yet another enormous tax shelter to the nation’s wealthiest heirs in the face of huge budget deficits, growing income inequality and looming government obligations for Social Security and Medicare."

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Hollywood Split Over Mel Gibson's Future

Hollywood Split Over Mel Gibson's Future: "A stunned Hollywood debated the future of one of its biggest stars Sunday as a sheriff's watchdog launched an investigation into a possible cover up of a leaked report that quoted Mel Gibson unleashing a tirade of anti-Semitic remarks during a drunken driving arrest.

One media expert said Gibson irreparably damaged his career with his 'crazy' behavior following his arrest by Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies in Malibu early Friday. Charges of anti-Semitism were also leveled against the actor-director with the release of his 2004 blockbuster 'The Passion of the Christ.'

'It's a nuclear disaster for him,' said publicist Michael Levine, who has represented Michael Jackson and Charlton Heston, among others. 'I don't see how he can restore himself.'

The entertainment Web site TMZ posted what it said were four pages from the original arrest report, which quoted Gibson as launching an expletive-laden 'barrage of anti-Semitic remarks' after he was stopped on Pacific Coast Highway."

Of course "The Passion" was decried for its anti-Semitic spin on the crucifixion... and now we knowwhere that spin came from.

TP: Zakaria: Rumsfeld ‘Seems In A Parallel Universe and Slightly Deranged’

Think Progress has a great quote from Newsweek's Zakaria from ABC This Week: "[If I were running against conservatives,] I would make up a campaign commercial almost entirely of Donald Rumsfeld’s press conferences, because the man is looking — I mean, it’s not just that he seems like a bad Secretary of [Defense]. He seems literally in a parallel universe and slightly deranged. If you listen to what he said last week about Iraq, he’s living in a different world, not a different country."

WaPo op-ed-- Kennedy: Roberts and Alito Misled Us

Roberts and Alito Misled Us: "the careful, bipartisan process of years past -- like so many checks and balances rooted in our Constitution -- has been badly broken by the current Bush administration. The result has been the confirmation of two justices, John G. Roberts Jr. and Samuel A. Alito Jr., whose voting record on the court reflects not the neutral, modest judicial philosophy they promised the Judiciary Committee, but an activist's embrace of the administration's political and ideological agenda.

Now that the votes are in from their first term, we can see plainly the agenda that Roberts and Alito sought to conceal from the committee. Our new justices consistently voted to erode civil liberties, decrease the rights of minorities and limit environmental protections. At the same time, they voted to expand the power of the president, reduce restrictions on abusive police tactics and approve federal intrusion into issues traditionally governed by state law.

The confirmation process became broken because the Bush administration learned the wrong lesson from the failed Bork nomination and decided it could still nominate extremists as long as their views were hidden. To that end, it insisted that the Senate confine its inquiry largely to its nominees' personal qualities."

WaPo: GOP Drug Plan is biting unsuspecting seniors

Bills Soar As Many Hit Gap in Drug Plan: "The calls are starting to come in from shocked or angry seniors. They have just learned that their Medicare drug plans are maxing out on early coverage and that they must now spend $2,850 from their own pockets before coverage will resume.

'I can't pay for my medications,' one man told Howard Houghton of the Fairfax Area Agency on Aging the other day. 'What do I do?'

Over the next five months, several million Americans with high medicine costs could find themselves in a similar bind. The gap in insurance, popularly called the doughnut hole, is an unusual provision in most of the private plans offered in Medicare's new Part D prescription drug program. Advocates for the elderly say it is misunderstood and problematic.

'There's nothing sweet about the doughnut hole,' said Deene Beebe, spokeswoman for the New York-based Medicare Rights Center.

The program was designed to give all participants a certain level of insurance and to protect elderly and disabled recipients with chronic or catastrophic illnesses from huge prescription expenses. To afford those two goals, Part D's designers built in an annual period during which individuals have to pay for medicines themselves.

Under a standard plan this first year, Medicare handles 75 percent of drug costs after a deductible until the bill reaches $2,250. It does not kick in again until those costs total $5,100. After that, prescriptions are almost completely paid for. The very poor can get special subsidies."

Some in GOP are saying Bush abuses his powers

From "President Bush faces growing opposition from once loyal conservatives who say the White House has launched a power grab that threatens the Constitution's checks and balances among the three branches of government.

The White House and the president's defenders say Bush needs expanded powers to fight terrorism, but a growing number of Republican politicians and key conservative policy shapers say the balance of power is now too heavily tilted in favor of the executive branch --- and Congress is failing to do anything about it.

Among the issues sparking dissent from the GOP ranks is the administration's extensive use of presidential 'signing statements' to indicate his intent to nullify provisions in bills passed by Congress. Bush has signed more such statements than all preceding presidents combined, according to the American Bar Association.

In addition, the Bush administration has invoked the 'state secret privilege' more than any other previous administration to get potentially embarrassing cases thrown out of federal court on grounds that they would reveal national security secrets.

Also worrying to some conservatives are the president's surveillance programs to ensnare terrorists, which allow the government to snoop without permission from a judge. And they are concerned about the administration's plans to try suspected terrorists outside of the military courts."

Politics as usual in Congress

From the AJC: "The Senate must resume work Monday on the complex legislation that could have an enormous impact on 44 million Americans with pensions, airline employees, low-wage workers and wealthy people with large estates.

With the House's actions, however, Congress appeared heading toward a noisy fight that could end with no legislation being passed at all. The Senate has only until Friday to sort it all out before its recess.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) is demanding that the House measures be passed without change. But Democrats denounced Republicans' legislative maneuvers, which have attached minimum wage hikes to an estate-tax reduction.

Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) said that by combining the issues, Republicans are playing 'a cynical game of politics.' He said he was 'confident the Senate will reject this political blackmail.'"

AJC: What happened after the 48th left Iraq?

The AJC has a fascinating look at the change in approach from the citizen soldiers of the 48th to the "real soldiers" in the 101st: "Soon after Doraville's police chief, Lt. Col. John King, arrived with his soldiers in Iraq's treacherous Triangle of Death last summer, they set about the civilian task of nation-building.

Within months, the Georgia Army National Guard's 48th Brigade Combat Team began earning trust from the residents in Mahmudiyah, a small, rural town 45 minutes south of Baghdad that had become notorious for insurgent attacks and criminal activity.

The citizen soldiers knew that the key to their success would be their ability to nurture relationships with the Iraqi people.

'They were telling us where the bad guys were, where the IEDs [improvised explosive devices, or makeshift bombs] were put in so that we could destroy them instead of hitting them,' said Brig. Gen. Stewart Rodeheaver, commander of the 48th Brigade.

But, after just five months on the job, the Army replaced the Georgians in Mahmudiyah and southwest Baghdad.

Brigade officers found themselves handing over control to the 101st Airborne Division, the storied regular Army unit out of Fort Campbell, Ky., that has a well-respected history dating back to the beaches of Normandy.

What happened after the 101st Airborne units moved in, however, has raised questions among military analysts about what type of combat unit is best suited for Iraq."

Dan Savage Op-Ed: Same-Sex Marriage Wins by Losing - New York Times

Same-Sex Marriage Wins by Losing - New York Times: "Even if you believe that marriage plays a special role in the lives of heterosexuals with children (another point I’m happy to concede), can it not play a similar role in the lives of homosexual couples, whether they’re parents or not? Marriage, after all, is not reserved for couples with children. (Perhaps it will be soon, if courts keep heading in this direction.)

When my widowed grandfather remarried in his 60’s, he wasn’t seeking to further the well-being of his children, who were grown and out of the house. He was seeking the security, companionship and legal rights that marriage provides. The survival of humankind was the furthest thing from his mind.

These defeats have demoralized supporters of gay marriage, but I see a silver lining. If heterosexual instability and the link between heterosexual sex and human reproduction are the best arguments opponents of same-sex marriage can muster, I can’t help but feel that our side must be winning. Insulting heterosexuals and discriminating against children with same-sex parents may score the other side a few runs, but these strategies won’t win the game."

Still the Wrong Man for the U.N. - New York Times

Still the Wrong Man for the U.N. - New York Times: "When President Bush nominated John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations last year, we argued that this convinced unilateralist and lifelong disparager of the United Nations should not be confirmed. The Senate agreed. Mr. Bush sent him to New York anyway, using the constitutional end run of a recess appointment. That appointment expires in January.

Now the Senate is being asked to confirm Mr. Bolton again. With one of last year’s critics, George Voinovich, Republican of Ohio, having recently changed sides, confirmation seems more likely. But after a year of watching Mr. Bolton at work, we still believe the Senate should reject his nomination.

As ambassador, Mr. Bolton’s performance has been more restrained than many of his opponents feared. He has, as far as we know, faithfully carried out any instructions he was given. And on some issues, like this spring’s botched reform of the United Nations’ human-rights monitoring body, Mr. Bolton was right not to accept a bad result.

But over all, American interests at the U.N. have suffered from Mr. Bolton’s time there, and will suffer more if the Senate confirms him in the job. At a time when a militarily and diplomatically overstretched Washington needs as much international cooperation as it can get — on Iraq, on Iran, on North Korea and now on the latest fighting between Israel and Lebanon — Mr. Bolton is a liability, not an asset at the United Nations."

NYT Endorses Lamott in CT Senate race

A Senate Race in Connecticut - New York Times: "Mr. Lamont, a wealthy businessman from Greenwich, seems smart and moderate, and he showed spine in challenging the senator while other Democrats groused privately. He does not have his opponent’s grasp of policy yet. But this primary is not about Mr. Lieberman’s legislative record. Instead it has become a referendum on his warped version of bipartisanship, in which the never-ending war on terror becomes an excuse for silence and inaction. We endorse Ned Lamont in the Democratic primary for Senate in Connecticut."

Disowning Conservative Politics, Evangelical Pastor Rattles Flock - New York Times

Disowning Conservative Politics, Evangelical Pastor Rattles Flock - New York Times: "Like most pastors who lead thriving evangelical megachurches, the Rev. Gregory A. Boyd was asked frequently to give his blessing — and the church’s — to conservative political candidates and causes.

The requests came from church members and visitors alike: Would he please announce a rally against gay marriage during services? Would he introduce a politician from the pulpit? Could members set up a table in the lobby promoting their anti-abortion work? Would the church distribute “voters’ guides” that all but endorsed Republican candidates? And with the country at war, please couldn’t the church hang an American flag in the sanctuary?

After refusing each time, Mr. Boyd finally became fed up, he said. Before the last presidential election, he preached six sermons called “The Cross and the Sword” in which he said the church should steer clear of politics, give up moralizing on sexual issues, stop claiming the United States as a “Christian nation” and stop glorifying American military campaigns.

“When the church wins the culture wars, it inevitably loses,” Mr. Boyd preached. “When it conquers the world, it becomes the world. When you put your trust in the sword, you lose the cross.”

Mr. Boyd says he is no liberal. He is opposed to abortion and thinks homosexuality is not God’s ideal. The response from his congregation at Woodland Hills Church here in suburban St. Paul — packed mostly with politically and theologically conservative, middle-class evangelicals — was passionate. Some members walked out of a sermon and never returned. By the time the dust had settled, Woodland Hills, which Mr. Boyd founded in 1992, had lost about 1,000 of its 5,000 members.

But there were also congregants who thanked Mr. Boyd, telling him they were moved to tears to hear him voice concerns they had been too afraid to share."

Surprise: Audit Finds U.S. Hid Cost of Iraq Projects - New York Times

Audit Finds U.S. Hid Cost of Iraq Projects - New York Times: "The State Department agency in charge of $1.4 billion in reconstruction money in Iraq used an accounting shell game to hide ballooning cost overruns on its projects there and knowingly withheld information on schedule delays from Congress, a federal audit released late Friday has found."

Notice the bad news released late Friday, when people aren't supposed to pay attention.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Michael Steele makes Bush bashing scandal worse by lying

AMERICAblog has the link to the Political Wire expose: "Typical Republican. He's denying and blaming everyone else. But, his own campaign approved the 'off the record' quotes trashing Bush and his fellow Republicans. Via Political Wire:

Today, the Maryland Democratic Party sent Political Wire a copy of an email between Steele's communications director and Millbank giving approval for use of Steele's quotes and discussing the terms of the story. The email makes clear Steele's campaign knew about the story in advance and was even given the opportunity to approve the quotes in the story." - Democrats launch 'Six for '06' agenda - Democrats launch 'Six for '06' agenda - Jul 27, 2006: "The Senate's top Democrat says 1994's 'Contract with America,' the Republican campaign agenda the year the GOP regained control of Congress -- was an 'urban myth.'

'The 'Contract with America' didn't accomplish anything,' said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada. '(It) didn't change the election at all.'

Republicans signed the 10-point plan with fanfare on the steps of the Capitol before they took control of the House for the first time in 40 years.

Yet, even as Reid dismissed the 'Contract with America,' he and other Democrats were promoting their own election-year document of six broad legislative goals, called 'Six for '06.'

Democrats insist most of this year's campaigns -- 75 percent -- will be a referendum on President Bush.

But they also realize they have to give voters a reason to vote for them, not just against Republicans."

Tide of Arab Opinion Turns to Support for Hezbollah - New York Times

Tide of Arab Opinion Turns to Support for Hezbollah - New York Times: "At the onset of the Lebanese crisis, Arab governments, starting with Saudi Arabia, slammed Hezbollah for recklessly provoking a war, providing what the United States and Israel took as a wink and a nod to continue the fight.

Now, with hundreds of Lebanese dead and Hezbollah holding out against the vaunted Israeli military for more than two weeks, the tide of public opinion across the Arab world is surging behind the organization, transforming the Shiite group’s leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, into a folk hero and forcing a change in official statements.

The Saudi royal family and King Abdullah II of Jordan, who were initially more worried about the rising power of Shiite Iran, Hezbollah’s main sponsor, are scrambling to distance themselves from Washington.

An outpouring of newspaper columns, cartoons, blogs and public poetry readings have showered praise on Hezbollah while attacking the United States and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for trumpeting American plans for a “new Middle East” that they say has led only to violence and repression."

Thursday, July 27, 2006

NYT Op-Ed: A scientist claims his research has been misused by conservatives

Cold, Hard Facts - Peter Doran in the New York Times: "Our results have been misused as “evidence” against global warming by Michael Crichton in his novel “State of Fear” and by Ann Coulter in her latest book, “Godless: The Church of Liberalism.” Search my name on the Web, and you will find pages of links to everything from climate discussion groups to Senate policy committee documents — all citing my 2002 study as reason to doubt that the earth is warming. One recent Web column even put words in my mouth. I have never said that “the unexpected colder climate in Antarctica may possibly be signaling a lessening of the current global warming cycle.” I have never thought such a thing either.
I would like to remove my name from the list of scientists who dispute global warming. I know my coauthors would as well."

AJC Op-Ed: Clergy too quiet about Bush, war

Kenneth C. Daniel asks some very good questions in his op-ed piece in today's AJC: "A few years ago, there was a popular bumper sticker and bracelet. It was the essence of simplicity; four letters, followed by a question mark --- WWJD? What Would Jesus Do? Most of the stickers have either faded into oblivion or have been replaced by other causes, such as Support Our Troops or God Bless America.

As the WWJD bumper stickers disappeared, did the message vanish as well? The idea began to haunt me. The more I mulled it over, the darker and more foreboding the tempest swirled, until a single question emerged from this maelstrom of thoughts and emotions: Where is the voice of our spiritual leaders? Where are the sentinels of our souls, raising their voices, asking the tough questions, protesting injustice, condemning corruption?

So, I ask you, clergy, where is your voice?

> WWJD about a war initiated on deception in which, every day, men and women --- American, Iraqi, Afghani and others --- are dying?

> WWJD about so many of our leaders who loudly proclaim their Christian faith and devotion to God to gain our vote, then, once elected, lie and cheat and deceive?

> WWJD about a government that places more importance on corporate profit than on the environment or the welfare of its citizens?"

There's more at the link.

Treasury finally admits reality regarding tax cuts

An AJC editorial, from "Even when the Bush administration tries to put the most favorable spin on its massive tax cuts, an inconvenient truth is spit out: Tax cuts don't automatically pay for themselves.

The Treasury Department acknowledges as much in a new report that touts the economic benefits of making the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 permanent. In order to keep federal debt from growing faster than the economy, 'tax relief must be financed by an offsetting change in government revenues or spending,' the agency states.

Neither option is painless. Tax cuts scheduled to expire at the end of 2010 have cost the federal treasury almost $1.1 trillion so far. That's equivalent to about 40 percent of all the money the federal government expects to spend this fiscal year, and twice the current annual defense budget."

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Conservative Mag: Conservatives calling for Condi's head, saying she's incompetent

HuffPo has the link to a story in Insight magazine (sibling of Washington Times) about the conservative revolt against Condi: "Conservative national security allies of President Bush are in revolt against Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, saying that she is incompetent and has reversed the administration’s national security and foreign policy agenda.

The conservatives, who include Newt Gingrich, Richard Perle and leading current and former members of the Pentagon and National Security Council, have urged the president to transfer Miss Rice out of the State Department and to an advisory role. They said Miss Rice, stemming from her lack of understanding of the Middle East, has misled the president on Iran and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

'The president has yet to understand that people make policy and not the other way around,' a senior national security policy analyst said. 'Unlike [former Secretary of State Colin] Powell, Condi is loyal to the president. She is just incompetent on most foreign policy issues.' "

For One Senate Candidate, the 'R' Is a 'Scarlet Letter'

Dana Milbank's column in the WaPo yesterday has raised a lot of discussion--and guesses as to who this mystery senator is: "The candidate, immersed in one of the most competitive Senate races in the country, sat down to lunch yesterday with reporters at a Capitol Hill steakhouse and shared his views about this year's political currents.

On the Iraq war: 'It didn't work. . . . We didn't prepare for the peace.'

On the response to Hurricane Katrina: 'A monumental failure of government.'

On the national mood: 'There's a palpable frustration right now in the country.'

It's all fairly standard Democratic boilerplate -- except the candidate is a Republican . And he's getting all kinds of cooperation from the White House, the Republican National Committee and GOP congressional leaders.

Not that he necessarily wants it. 'Well, you know, I don't know,' the candidate said when asked if he wanted President Bush to campaign for him. Noting Bush's low standing in his home state, he finally added: 'To be honest with you, probably not.'"

UPDATE Mike Steele fesses up.

A Long, Bad Six Weeks - New York Times

A Long, Bad Six Weeks - New York Times: "Six weeks ago, President Bush paid a surprise visit to Iraq’s prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, in Baghdad. American forces had just killed the terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Iraq’s Parliament had just confirmed new ministers to run the army and the police, completing what was billed as a national unity cabinet. Mr. Maliki seized the occasion to announce a major military operation meant to bring security to the people of Baghdad. Mr. Bush took one of his patented looks into the prime minister’s eyes and found a worthy partner.

This week, as Mr. Maliki returns the visit, things feel very different. It seems possible, in fact, that the two men’s brief encounter in Baghdad might turn out to have been the last good moment of the American experience in Iraq.

Despite the elimination of Mr. Zarqawi and the new security drive, the daily carnage is increasing, especially in Baghdad and especially against civilians. Last month, for the first time, the nationwide civilian death toll exceeded 100 people per day. Despite the increased presence of Sunni Arabs in the new cabinet, the political and physical gulf between Sunnis and Shiites is wider then ever; the flight of frightened families from religiously mixed neighborhoods is further cleaving the country in two."

Baghdad Chaos Pushes Bush to Shift U.S. Troops - New York Times

No, we can't bring them home...we have to put them in even greater harm's way: "Saying the security situation in Baghdad remained “terrible,” President Bush announced an agreement with Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki on Tuesday to significantly strengthen the United States military presence in the city.

The announcement, presented at a joint news conference during Mr. Maliki’s first visit to the White House since taking office in May, was a tacit admission that the Iraqi government had not succeeded in bringing stability to the capital, and that any major withdrawal of American troops soon remained unlikely.

Under the new security plan, devised by American military commanders in consultation with the Iraqis, some 4,000 United States troops would move into Baghdad, to join the same number of Iraqi counterparts. The United States has about 128,000 troops in Iraq, approximately 7,200 of them in Baghdad, according to military officials there.

“Obviously, the violence in Baghdad is still terrible, and therefore there needs to be more troops,” Mr. Bush said at the news conference, held in the East Room after a morning meeting with Mr. Maliki in the Oval Office. “Our military commanders tell me that this deployment will better reflect the current conditions on the ground in Iraq.”"

Monday, July 24, 2006

Independent UK: Moving on to Plan B in Iraq?

Independent Online Edition > Middle East: "'Iraq as a political project is finished,' a senior government official was quoted as saying, adding: 'The parties have moved to plan B.' He said that the Shia, Sunni and Kurdish parties were now looking at ways to divide Iraq between them and to decide the future of Baghdad, where there is a mixed population. 'There is serious talk of Baghdad being divided into [Shia] east and [Sunni] west,' he said.

Hoshyar Zebari, the Iraqi Foreign Minister, told The Independent in an interview, before joining Mr Maliki to fly to London and then Washington, that in theory the government should be able to solve the crisis because Shia, Kurd and Sunni were elected members of it.

But he painted a picture of a deeply divided administration in which senior Sunni members praised anti-government insurgents as 'the heroic resistance'."

Legal Group Faults Bush for Ignoring Parts of Bills - New York Times

Legal Group Faults Bush for Ignoring Parts of Bills - New York Times: "The American Bar Association said Sunday that President Bush was flouting the Constitution and undermining the rule of law by claiming the power to disregard selected provisions of bills that he signed.

In a comprehensive report, a bipartisan 11-member panel of the bar association said Mr. Bush had used such “signing statements” far more than his predecessors, raising constitutional objections to more than 800 provisions in more than 100 laws on the ground that they infringed on his prerogatives.

These broad assertions of presidential power amount to a “line-item veto” and improperly deprive Congress of the opportunity to override the veto, the panel said.

In signing a statutory ban on torture and other national security laws, Mr. Bush reserved the right to disregard them.

The bar association panel said the use of signing statements in this way was “contrary to the rule of law and our constitutional system of separation of powers.” From the dawn of the Republic, it said, presidents have generally understood that, in the words of George Washington, a president “must approve all the parts of a bill, or reject it in toto.”"

Mulshine: Neocons go off the deep end

Paul Mulshine, from the "The one good thing that's come out of the current mess in the Mideast is the final and incontrovertible proof that the adherents of that strain of thought called neoconservatism are off their rockers.

For this we can thank William Kristol, the editor of the Weekly Standard. Kristol, having been perhaps the chief cheerleader for the liberation by force of Iraq, is now leading the call for a similar liberation of Iran.

That the neocon plan for the liberation of Iraq did not go according to plan does not slow him down in the least.

'The first two battles of this new era are now over,' Kristol proclaimed just after the fall of Baghdad in April 2003. 'The battles of Afghanistan and Iraq have been won decisively and honorably.'

Pressed by an interviewer who speculated that the natives seemed restless in Iraq, Kristol answered, 'If, three years from now, we have beaten back these threats and have a decent regime there, it'll be worth it.'

It's been three years and three months now. We haven't beaten back the threats and we don't have a decent regime. The American combat fatality count in Iraq was about 100 when Kristol made that statement. It now approaches 2,600. No matter. It's on to Iran. Kristol suggests the climate in the Mideast will be improved by a strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. 'Why wait?' he asks. He answers his own question by arguing that 'It would be easier to act sooner rather than later.'

It would also be relatively easy to bump off the Syrian leadership as well, say Kristol and the other neocons. We can presumably expect 'a decent regime' to spring up spontaneously there as well once Bashar Assad's dictatorship goes the way of Saddam Hussein's dictatorship.

Kristol's exuberance at the Mideast mess was too much for George Will. The other day, the Washington Post columnist termed Kristol's views 'so untethered from reality as to defy caricature.' Will, a traditional conservative, went on to proclaim neoconservatism 'a spectacularly misnamed radicalism.'"

AJC: Military brass urged Iraq abuse

From wire reports, at "The group Human Rights Watch said in a report released Sunday that U.S. military commanders encouraged abusive interrogations of detainees in Iraq, even after the Abu Ghraib prison scandal called attention to the issue in 2004.

Between 2003 and 2005, prisoners were routinely physically mistreated, deprived of sleep and exposed to extreme temperatures as part of the interrogation process, the report said.

'Soldiers were told that the Geneva Conventions did not apply, and that interrogators could use abusive techniques to get detainees to talk,' wrote John Sifton, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch."

Saturday, July 22, 2006

TP: NASA quietly had its mission statement changed

Think Progress quotes the NYT regarding a story that NASA's mission statement was quietly changed by the White House--are they that afraid of global warming?: "NASA quietly had its mission statement changed last February by the White House, who deleted the phrase “to understand and protect our home planet.” NASA scientists were surprised to learn of the change. “Without it, these scientists say, there will be far less incentive to pursue projects to improve understanding of terrestrial problems like climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions.”"

C&L: Cafferty on Iraq: Sub Human Nightmare

Crooks and Liars has the video of Jack Cafferty's assessment on Iraq: "Cafferty: While the media remains mesmerized by the fighting in Israel and Lebanon, more than a hundred people a day are being killed in Iraq…

Wolf: It is simply horrendous, the slaughter, the bloodshed that’s continuing even as we monitor by enlarge what’s happening elsewhere in the Middle East.

Cafferty: What’s our plan? Do we have one for dealing with this? I mean it’s degenerating into some sort of sub human nightmare."

AP: Cheney uses Mideast as campaign issue

Cheney uses Mideast as campaign issue: "Vice President Dick Cheney on Friday pointed to the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah as fresh evidence of the ongoing battle against terrorism that underscores the need to keep President Bush's Republican allies in control of Congress.

'This conflict is a long way from over,' Cheney said at a fundraising appearance for a GOP congressional candidate. 'It's going to be a battle that will last for a very long time. It is absolutely essential that we stay the course.'"

What Next for Ralph Reed? - New York Times

What Next for Ralph Reed? - New York Times: "In a telephone interview on Friday, Mr. Reed said he was proud of his campaign and glad that he had run. “I have been building the Republican Party and the pro-family movement for over 25 years, and I am looking forward to continuing that important work,” he said.

In his concession speech, Mr. Reed said he was not “not focused on being a candidate in the future.”

In the interview, however, he said, “First bids for elected office are always tough, and I am not the first person to lose a first campaign,” noting several examples, including Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida and Mr. Gingrich, who went on to become speaker of the House.

Ken Mehlman, chairman of the Republican National Committee, said Friday that he was sticking by Mr. Reed. In an e-mail message, he said Mr. Reed had “played a vital role” in building the party’s grass-roots networks in Georgia and around the country. He added, “I look forward to continuing to work with him and value his friendship.”

Mr. Reed has retained his communications and consulting firm, Century Strategies, which in the nine years since he founded it has enabled him to amass a net worth of $4.5 million, according to financial disclosure forms filed during the campaign.

It remains to be seen how the revelations about his ties to Mr. Abramoff will affect Mr. Reed’s relationships with Christian conservative candidates or leaders. A Senate committee’s investigation into Mr. Abramoff’s double-dealing with his Indian gambling clients determined that he had paid Mr. Reed’s firm more than $4 million to organize Christian opposition to new Indian casinos on behalf of tribes with casinos who hoped to avoid competition."

Feeling Strains, Baptist Colleges Cut Church Ties - New York Times

NYT has an interesting look at the clash between the Baptist church and various Baptist colleges who actually want to teach true things: "The request seemed simple enough to the Rev. Hershael W. York, then the president of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. He asked Georgetown College, a small Baptist liberal arts institution here, to consider hiring for its religion department someone who would teach a literal interpretation of the Bible.

But to William H. Crouch Jr., the president of Georgetown, it was among the last straws in a struggle that had involved issues like who could be on the board of trustees and whether the college encouraged enough freedom of inquiry to qualify for a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.

Dr. Crouch and his trustees decided it was time to end the college’s 63-year affiliation with the religious denomination. “From my point of view, it was about academic freedom,’’ Dr. Crouch said. “I sat for 25 years and watched my denomination become much more narrow and, in terms of education, much more interested in indoctrination.’’

Georgetown is among a half-dozen colleges and universities whose ties with state Baptist conventions have been severed in the last four years, part of a broad realignment in which more than a dozen Southern Baptist universities, including Wake Forest and Furman, have ended affiliations over the last two decades. Georgetown’s parting was ultimately amicable. But many have been tense, even bitter.

In Georgia and Missouri, disputes over who controls the boards of Baptist colleges led to prolonged litigation. In Tennessee, a clash over whether Belmont University in Nashville could appoint non-Baptists to its board led the Tennessee Baptist Convention to vote in May to remove the entire board. Belmont’s trustees are still running the university, and while negotiations are continuing, the battle for control could end up in court."

NYT: How to further inflame the Arab world

U.S. Speeds Up Bomb Delivery for the Israelis - New York Times: "The Bush administration is rushing a delivery of precision-guided bombs to Israel, which requested the expedited shipment last week after beginning its air campaign against Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, American officials said Friday.

The decision to quickly ship the weapons to Israel was made with relatively little debate within the Bush administration, the officials said. Its disclosure threatens to anger Arab governments and others because of the appearance that the United States is actively aiding the Israeli bombing campaign in a way that could be compared to Iran’s efforts to arm and resupply Hezbollah.

The munitions that the United States is sending to Israel are part of a multimillion-dollar arms sale package approved last year that Israel is able to draw on as needed, the officials said. But Israel’s request for expedited delivery of the satellite and laser-guided bombs was described as unusual by some military officers, and as an indication that Israel still had a long list of targets in Lebanon to strike."

Friday, July 21, 2006

HuffPo: Focus On The Family Launches Anti-Gay Website

Focus On The Family Launches Anti-Gay Website: "Dogs Aren't Born Mooing, And People Aren't Born Gay"... | The Huffington Post: "James Dobson's Colorado Springs-based ministry stands firmly against same-sex marriage, gay rights initiatives and, now, mooing puppies.

On Tuesday, Focus unveiled its new 'straight' puppy Web site,, featuring a basset hound named Sherman, who barks as biology intended. During a news conference, a Focus employee dressed in a dog suit, who serves as a mascot at the group's visitors center, made a brief appearance.

'Dogs aren't born mooing, and people aren't born gay,' a Focus news release stated."

This is the best they've got?

Gilliard: Why Bush didn't go over so well at the NAACP convention

From The News Blog. Check out the photo, too. Classic W.

NYPost: Quayle's walkout at Mellencamp concert

Page Six has the followup details, including a funny quote from Charles Barkley (via AmericaBlog): "The reverb is still echoing over Dan Quayle's walkout in the middle of a John Mellencamp concert in Lake Tahoe last weekend. The singer-songwriter introduced his tune 'Wall Talk' by announcing, 'This next one is for all the poor people who've been ignored by the current administration.' As Quayle exited, the former veep explained, 'I didn't appreciate the comment, and besides, I didn't think the show was very good.' But Mellencamp said he couldn't care less that Quayle got his knickers in a twist: 'I certainly wouldn't have changed a word.' NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley backed Mellencamp, saying, 'He's right.' While that may sound odd coming from a former conservative, Barkley told a local reporter, 'I was a Republican - until they lost their minds.'"

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Hertzberg/New Yorker: Why Joe is having such a tough time

The New Yorker: The Talk of the Town: "Why, you may ask, is Joseph Lieberman having such a tough time with the simple task of getting himself renominated for the Senate seat he has held for the past seventeen years? Theories abound. One of them, popular on the right, is that Senator Lieberman is the victim of what David Brooks, in the Times, calls “a liberal inquisition.” Another, popular on the left, is that Lieberman is not a “real Democrat” but, rather, a species of Republican—a “Republican-lite,” a “Bush-Cheney Republican,” an “in-the-pocket Bush man,” to quote some recent online epithets. A third, current across the ideological spectrum, is that Lieberman’s trouble is based on a single issue: his unremitting support for the Iraq War.

These theories are not mutually exclusive, and they contain, respectively, a grain, a kernel, and a boulder of truth, but they all fall short. If what we have here is an inquisition (not the mot juste, perhaps, to describe a primary), then the only heretic who has anything to worry about is named Joe. Lieberman’s views are broadly similar to those of such colleagues as Diane Feinstein and Ben Nelson, and nobody’s trying to burn them at the stake. As for Lieberman’s party credentials, they seem to be in reasonably good order. He is a three-term Democratic senator from a state, Connecticut, that’s as blue as a state can be while still being the spawning ground of the Bush dynasty; six years ago, he was the Democratic Party’s nominee for Vice-President, an unusual honor for a fake Democrat; he has the support of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., naral, and the League of Conservation Voters. The third theory comes closest to being a sufficient explanation, for without the war Lieberman would not be facing a primary challenge at all, let alone a strong one. Yet not even his opinions on Iraq can fully account for the special vehemence of the opposition to him."

Raw Story: Buchanan slams neocons for Mideast 'warmongering'

The Raw Story: Matthews, Buchanan slam neocons for Mideast 'warmongering': "MATTHEWS: Let's go through the politics of this situation. The neocons are out there complaining that this president isn't tough enough. I have no idea what they mean. Fifty-thousand dead in Iraq. It was supposed to be a cakewalk. Ken Adleman is out there today saying we should go other places. You got guys like Ledeen who want to blow up every Arab country on the list. What is going on in their complaint and why is the president paying 5 seconds of attention to them?

BUCHANAN: I don't know why he pays attention to them, Chris. What they want, Chris, is a wider war. Especially in the Middle East. They want The United State to fight Israel's war against Hezbollah, Syria and especially Iran. And the Israelis want us to fight Iran as well. But it's not in the interest of The United States. None of those countries, even Hezbollah and Hamas, have no attacked The United States of America. I don't think the country is listening to the neocons anymore. I think their discredited. The question is, 'Is Bush listening to them.' Because he was going for a while, up to his second Inaugural, very much according to a script they wrote."

Pretty chilling.

C&L: Tony Snow and Helen Thomas: “Thank You for the Hezbollah View”

Crooks and Liars has the video--I saw it live but missed it on the site Tuesday--of Snow attacking poor old Helen Thomas with a cheap shot: "Snow told the gaggle that the reason Americans trying to get out of Lebanon were being forced to pay was because of a law on the books. Then Helen Thomas asked Snow why the US vetoed a ceasefire resolution and Snow said we did nothing of the kind. Helen’s point is to ask when the violence will stop. Snow took a cheap shot at her which isn’t surprising coming from his FOX News background. .

Snow: Well, thank you for the Hezbollah view…."

A Point of No Return for the Episcopal Church?

A Point of No Return for the Episcopal Church in the USA
By Charles V. Willie, PhD

The contentious relationship between the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America and the worldwide Anglican Communion is appropriately called a “civil war over homosexuality” by The New York Times. I, also, think it is an event of “civil stress” about love and justice. In 1966, Joseph Fletcher, an Episcopal priest on the faculty of the Episcopal Theological School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, wrote a book titled Situation Ethics in which he declared that “love is the boss principle of life” and “justice is love distributed”.

While other institutional systems in society like government, the economy, and education identify principles other than love that are central to their mission, certainly love is the foundational principle of religion – all religions. It is our religious responsibility in society to remind other institutions to do what they are called to do in loving and just ways.

Thus, it is a shocking experience to see a religious institution like the Anglican Communion demonize gay couples and lesbian couples who wish to marry and homosexual people who wish to make a sacrificial offering of their leadership skills to the church as priests or bishops. There is no evidence that one’s sexual orientation limits one’s capacity to love others. So, why is the church so upset about women and homosexual people serving as church leaders?

If a group like the Anglican Communion is unwilling to accept the proposition that “all . . . are created equal” as stated in our Declaration of Independence” and that all institutions should “derive their just powers from the consent of the governed”, the Episcopal Church in the United States may have no alternative but to withdraw from a Communion that proclaims homosexual people are not worthy of being church leaders. It is an inappropriate proposal to suggest that the Episcopal Church in the USA may be willing to remain as an associate member of the Anglican Communion without decision-making status if it does not wish to conform to a covenant which may deny gay people the privilege of serving as bishops.

In 1789, the United States established a democratic nation state governed by a Constitution that did not resolve the undemocratic issue of slavery. Two-thirds of a century later we paid dearly for this miscarriage of justice with a civil war that resulted in more that 600,000 deaths and lingering mistrust to this day between some civil districts in the South and North. Can the Episcopal Church in the USA expect a different outcome if it permits itself to be governed by a covenant of the Anglican Communion that discriminates against gay people? I do not think so! For this reason, I believe that the Archbishop has mentioned a proposal that will not work.

Now may be the time when the Episcopal Church in the United States may have to suffer the redemption of its friends elsewhere in the world by showing forth its love for all sorts and conditions of people and by refusing to compromise on this human rights matter.

Dr. Charles V. Willie is an educator and sociologist and is a past Vice-President of the House of Deputies of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in the USA. He delivered the ordination sermon when the first eleven women were ordained as priests in this church in Philadelphia, PA, July 1974. He is an honorary trustee of Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

© Dr. Charles V. Willie, 2006
Provided by Episcopal Divinity School, Cambridge, MA

What happened to the religious right-wing in Georgia?

Jim Galloway reports on Ralph Reed's trouncing and other setbacks to the religious right, from "The Republican race for lieutenant governor between Ralph Reed and Casey Cagle made Christian voters so uncomfortable that many stayed home --- sending ripples up and down the GOP ticket on Tuesday --- Republican and religious activists said a day after the primary.

'We haven't seen this much conservative disaffection in --- well, I would say this is a new experience,' said Dan Becker, who heads up the political arm of Georgia Right to Life, an anti-abortion group. 'But it's not a continuing phenomenon. This is an anomaly in an otherwise well-oiled machine. This is not the demise of the religious right.'

Reed's defeat also raises questions about how important Christian conservatives are to the success of the GOP at the polls, evangelical leaders, lawmakers and political scientists said."

Expert maligns security of voting machines

Cox Washington Bureau, via "A leading information security expert warned Congress on Wednesday that federal standards for electronic voting machines have done little to prevent the possibility of errors or manipulation by computer hackers.

'Today, the state of electronic voting security is not good,' David Wagner of the University of California at Berkeley told two House committees holding a joint hearing on electronic voting machines.

With today's paperless voting machines, 'a single person with insider access and some technical knowledge could switch votes, perhaps undetected, and potentially swing an election,' Wagner said.

The hearing came on the heels of lawsuits filed by citizen groups in at least nine states, including Georgia, challenging various actions by elections officials in the transition to electronic touch-screen voting.

In general, the lawsuits maintain that the electronic machines are too susceptible to fraud and manipulation and that, because they do not produce a paper trail, it is more difficult to verify the accuracy of voting returns."

AP: House protects Pledge, destroys Constitution

From "The House, citing the nation's religious origins, voted Wednesday to protect the Pledge of Allegiance from federal judges who might try to stop schoolchildren and others from reciting it because of the phrase 'under God.'

The legislation, a priority of social conservatives, passed 260-167. All of Georgia's House members supported the bill, except for Democrats John Lewis of Atlanta, who voted no, and Cynthia McKinney of DeKalb County, who did not vote.

The bill now goes to the Senate where its future is uncertain.

'We should not and cannot rewrite history to ignore our spiritual heritage,' said Rep. Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.). 'It surrounds us. It cries out for our country to honor God.'

Opponents said the legislation, which would bar federal courts from ruling on the constitutional validity of the pledge, would undercut judicial independence and would deny access to federal courts to religious minorities seeking to defend their rights.

'We are making an all-out assault on the Constitution of the United States. ...' said Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

The pledge bill would deny jurisdiction to federal courts, and appellate jurisdiction to the Supreme Court, to decide questions pertaining to the interpretation or constitutionality of the pledge. State courts could still decide whether the pledge is valid within a state."

AP: Homeland Security's post-Katrina spending spree

From "Department of Homeland Security employees used government-issued credit cards to rack up hundreds of thousands of dollars in unjustified expenses last year, including iPods, designer rain jackets and beer-making equipment, according to a congressional audit released Wednesday.

Investigators also cited more than 100 missing laptop computers that department employees bought in Hurricane Katrina's aftermath. Officials said some have been found.

The questionable spending and lack of oversight shows a department 'sometimes run more like a college fraternity house than an agency meant to protect us from terror,' Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement as the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee conducted a hearing on the audit by the Government Accountability Office."

NYT: Boehner more of the same, only more so

The Golden Touch of Leadership - New York Times: "The true talents of the new House majority leader, John Boehner, are becoming appallingly evident when it comes to the top item on Congress’s real agenda: the need to raise lots and lots of political money. Mr. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, is setting a fund-raising pace with powerful special-interest groups that already is challenging the achievements of his predecessor, Tom DeLay, the Texas Republican who quit Congress after he was indicted on charges of political money laundering."

Tap-Dancing as Fast as He Can - New York Times

Tap-Dancing as Fast as He Can - New York Times: "This is how President Bush keeps his promise to deal with Congress in good faith on issues of national security and the balance of powers: He sends the attorney general to the Senate Judiciary Committee to stonewall, obfuscate and spin fairy tales.

Testifying on Tuesday after months of refusing to show up, Alberto Gonzales dodged questions about President Bush’s warrantless wiretapping operation. He refused to say whether it was the only time that Mr. Bush had chosen to ignore the 1978 law on electronic eavesdropping. In particular, he would not say whether it was true that the government had accumulated large amounts of data on Americans’ routine telephone calls. “The programs and activities you ask about, to the extent that they exist, would be highly classified,” Mr. Gonzales intoned.

Mr. Gonzales did answer when he was asked who had derailed a Justice Department investigation, requested by Congress, into Mr. Bush’s decision to authorize the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on phone calls and e-mail without a warrant. Mr. Gonzales said that Mr. Bush himself did it, by refusing to grant the needed security clearances to the lawyers involved."

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

C&L: Letterman’s Top 10 Moments of George W Bush

Crooks and Liars has the video.

Congress rejects ban on gay marriage

NYT via "House Republicans failed Tuesday in an effort to pass a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, part of a proposed 'values agenda' that they hope will rally voters in midterm elections in November.

The vote was 237-187 in favor of the amendment, with one member voting 'present,' well short of the two-thirds majority needed to amend the Constitution. ...

The vote was largely symbolic because the Senate rejected a similar bill in May. Democrats accused Republicans of raising the issue even as they ignored more pressing problems, including the war in Iraq, an expanding conflict in the Middle East, high gasoline prices and North Korean missile tests."

AJC: Stem cell vote sets up Bush veto

From "Despite President Bush's promised veto, supporters of stem cell research Tuesday cheered a Senate vote in which 63 senators, including 19 Republicans, voted to expand research into embryonic stem cells, saying the overwhelming vote demonstrates momentum that will eventually lead to all-important federal support.

The Senate vote, with Georgia Republicans Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss dissenting, puts both houses of Congress in support of reversing the strict federal limitations on embryonic stem cell research that Bush put in place five years ago.

Still, the vote fell four short of the two-thirds majority necessary to override Bush's first-ever veto, which could come as soon as today.

Though a veto would almost certainly doom the bill in the near term, supporters of embryonic stem cell research said the decisive vote by the Senate is a marker that will keep the issue alive in the public sphere.

'There are some issues you just can't get off the national agenda, and this is one,' said Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.). 'Stem cell research is going to happen. It'll happen quicker with the president's support, but all of us who are supporting this important research know that it is inevitable. It's just a question of when.'"

AJC: Reed loses GOP primary, says he won't run again

From "In the end, Ralph Reed couldn't do for himself what he had helped Republicans do all the way up to the White House: Get elected.

Despite the backing of top conservatives including former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Georgia Gov. Zell Miller, Reed failed to win Georgia's GOP nomination for lieutenant governor Tuesday. He lost to little-known state Sen. Casey Cagle of Gainesville.

'I'm not focused on being a candidate in the future, but I'm glad I ran,' Reed, former head of the Christian Coalition, told supporters in conceding to Cagle before all of the votes had been counted."

NYT: Iraqi Death Toll Rises Above 100 Per Day, U.N. Says

Iraqi Death Toll Rises Above 100 Per Day, U.N. Says - New York Times: "An average of more than 100 civilians per day were killed in Iraq last month, the United Nations reported Tuesday, registering what appears to be the highest official monthly tally of violent deaths since the fall of Baghdad.

The death toll, drawn from Iraqi government agencies, was the most precise measurement of civilian deaths provided by any government organization since the invasion and represented a substantial increase over the figures in daily news media reports.

Contributing to the trend cited by the United Nations, a suicide car bomber killed at least 53 people and wounded at least 105 in the holy Shiite city of Kufa on Tuesday after he lured a throng of day laborers to his van with the offer of work.

The attack, one of the bloodiest this year, struck at the heart of Shiite Islam — Kufa is a stronghold of the powerful Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr and the site of a major shrine — and aggravated sectarian fury.

United Nations officials said Tuesday that the number of violent deaths had climbed steadily since at least last summer. During the first six months of this year, the civilian death toll jumped more than 77 percent, from 1,778 in January to 3,149 in June, the organization said."

BBC: Bush 'blocked phone tap inquiry'

BBC NEWS: "George W Bush personally stopped an inquiry into a controversial programme to monitor the phone calls and e-mails of Americans, a top official has said.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said internal investigators wanted to look at the role justice department lawyers had played in drafting the programme.

Mr Bush had refused them security clearance, Mr Gonzales told senators."

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

C&L: Colbert: It’s a World War III or IV

Crooks and Liars has the video from Colbert: It’s a World War III or IV: "The Colbert Report has the latest from the usual FOX analysts and their take on the new crisis in the Middle East.

Colbert: Those of you following the Iraq war on television know its been preempted by the action packed summer replacement series-Lebanon. It’s new, it’s new-it’s scary, but it’s important for everyone to remain calm and keep the situation in perspective…

...Colbert: Remember, these guys know war. They’re the ones that brought you the War on Christmas."

AMERICAblog: Bush attempts to strangle German chancellor at summit

AMERICAblog has the pix: "At first I thought this was just weird. Then I looked at the photos and the video. The chancellor looks rather surprised at someone suddenly touching her neck from behind. This is sexual harassment in any other workplace, isn't it? And it's rather inappropriate behavior for any man, let alone the president of the United States at a summit with foreign leaders."

AJC: Will Atlanta be home to civil rights museum?

Payne pushes rights museum | "Billy Payne, the man who brought the 1996 Olympics to Atlanta, challenged the community Monday to build a civil rights museum and promote the teachings of Martin Luther King Jr. to the rest of the world.

Calling the idea even bigger than Atlanta's Olympics, Payne delivered his clarion call for Atlanta's next 'enormous' dream at a luncheon speech Monday before the Atlanta Rotary Club and attended by several members of Atlanta's Olympic bid team.

"The cost is but a detail," Payne said. "We will raise whatever amount is required as we once again take the world's stage — this time not for sport, but for life — a beacon of hope illuminating the entire world with the example of Dr. King, with the example of Atlanta."

Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin and former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young, who both were part of Payne's Olympic management team, have been exploring the possibility of building a civil and human rights museum for the past year. The idea has gained momentum since Franklin led a communitywide effort to buy a collection of King's papers from Sotheby's for $32 million.

"I think he's saying the papers are just the beginning of what we can do in bringing Dr. King's legacy to Atlanta," said Franklin, who was not at the talk. Describing Payne as a 50-ish Southern white male, Franklin said: "Billy Payne shatters the stereotype that the South is resistant to Dr. King's legacy."

When asked about Payne's challenge, she said her first task was to finish raising the money for the King papers, an effort she would like to complete before they go on display this fall at the Atlanta History Center."

Monday, July 17, 2006

C&L: Limbaugh: Invasion is a Gift to the World!

Crooks and Liars - Limbaugh: Invasion is a Gift to the World!: "Limbaugh goes over the top once again and is calling this conflict a gift to the neocons and to the world. Just try to imagine the kind of evil involved in this type of thinking." Of course, C&L has the audio--and some relevant comments.

NYT's Kornblut falsely reported that Sen. Clinton criticized Democrats for "wasting time"

Media Matters - Kornblut falsely reported that Sen. Clinton criticized Democrats for "wasting time": "In a July 16 Web-only article, New York Times reporter Anne E. Kornblut falsely reported that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) criticized her fellow congressional Democrats 'for taking on issues that arouse conservatives and turn out Republican voters rather than finding consensus on mainstream subjects.' Kornblut quoted Clinton as saying in a July 15 speech, 'We do things that are controversial. We do things that try to inflame their base. ... We are wasting time.' But while Kornblut construed the 'we' in these statements as a reference to Democrats, as is clear from an audio recording of the speech, Clinton was actually referring to the Republican-led Congress. Despite the attention the falsehood drew on several blogs (Eschaton, Americablog, Daily Kos), the Times has yet to run a correction."

Juan Cole on the Bush blunder

Informed Comment: "It is an astonishingly simple-minded view of the situation, painted in black and white and making assumptions about who is who's puppet and what the Israeli motivations are. Israel doesn't appear as a protagonist. It is purely reactive. Stop provoking it, and it suddenly stops its war.

Since Israel is just being provoked and has no ambitions of its own, in this reading, it is useless to begin with a ceasefire. That treats the two sides as both provoking one another. Here, only Hizbullah matters, so you lean on Syria to lean on it, and, presto, peace breaks out.

It is a little window into the superficial, one-sided mind of the man, who has for six years been way out of his depth.

I come away from it shaken and trembling."

Depressing story from the Times Online about Baghdad

Baghdad starts to collapse as its people flee a life of death - World - Times Online.

Froomkin on Bush's bluntness

White House Briefing -- Froomkin reviews the curse heard round the world: "And what do we learn?

That even when he thinks the public isn't watching, Bush doesn't put on airs. He's garrulous and a little vulgar, he talks while he chews, and he's a little unclear on geography. And, contrary to the speculation that he is turning into some sort of carefully calibrating multilateralist, he doesn't do nuance. He's nothing if not blunt."

C&L: Bush Unplugged at the G8 over Middle East Conflict

Crooks and Liars has all sorts of videos, links, and transcripts--what's really gross to me is the way Bush chews his food while he's talking to the PM: "Mr Bush was caught saying that a key to defusing the Middle East crisis was for 'Hizbollah to stop doing this s**t'. 'What they need to do is get Syria to get Hizbollah to stop doing this s**t, and it’s over,' Bush told British Prime Minister Tony Blair at a leaders’ lunch at the Group of Eight industrial countries gathering here. The President was on camera but apparently unaware that his words were being captured by a microphone." And on the Eighth Day, Dr. Dobson Created Himself has an interesting article on Dr. Dobson--and reveals some reasons why he is so whacked: "James Dobson launched his evangelical empire, Focus on the Family, and became the most influencial Christian in America. He's lectured millions of parents on how to spank their children and advised President George W. Bush on how to spank the Supreme Court. How did the once lonely son of a preacher man rise to such heights? It's no miracle."

Gingrich offers Bush campaign advice

The Seattle Times, via Raw Story: "Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich says America is in World War III and President Bush should say so.

Gingrich said in an interview Saturday that Bush should call a joint session of Congress the first week of September and talk about global military conflicts in much starker terms than have been heard from the president.

'We need to have the militancy that says 'We're not going to lose a city, ' Gingrich said.

Gingrich said in the coming days he plans to speak out publicly and to the administration from his seat on the Defense Policy Board about the need to recognize that America is in World War III.

He lists wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, last week's bomb attacks in India, North Korean nuclear threats, terrorist arrests and investigations in Florida, Canada and Britain, and violence in Israel and Lebanon as evidence of World War III.

He said Bush needs to deliver a speech to Congress and 'connect all the dots' for Americans."

E&P: Novak on "Meet the Press" Claims He Didn't Out Plame

Novak on "Meet the Press" Claims He Didn't Out Plame: "Columnist Robert Novak, after submitting to a pair of interviews on his friendly home turf -- Fox News -- traveled to an away field on Sunday, appearing with Tim Russert on NBC's 'Meet the Press,' where he found himself on the hot seat at times.

There, among other things, he reversed course in his dispute with 'Newsday,' now saying that the paper did not not misquote him on a key point but rather that he misspoke. He continued to claim that he did not really 'out' covert CIA agent Valerie Plame. And he defended not only talking about sources with the prosecutor, but also refusing until now to confirm he had testified.

Yet, asked if he'd do it all again, he said he wasn't sure. But he clearly did not regret outing Plame, in fact, arguing, with little evidence, 'I don’t think I outed her. I think she was outed by Aldridge Aimes before. I don’t think she was a -- a covert operative.'"

Link to Disgraced Lobbyist Taints Race - New York Times

Link to Disgraced Lobbyist Taints Race - New York Times: "It is curious enough to see Ralph Reed, a man who was on the cover of Time magazine at age 33, the man widely credited with galvanizing evangelical Christians into a national political force, putting everything he has into a race for the relatively low-profile job of lieutenant governor of Georgia.

But it is stranger still to see him losing ground. Because of Mr. Reed’s entanglement in a national lobbying scandal, a political contest that once seemed well within his grasp has turned into a battle for his personal and professional reputation, and it is not clear whether he will survive the Republican primary on Tuesday.

At a recent rally here in the Atlanta suburbs, where people ate hot dogs and strawberries compliments of the Cobb County Republican Women’s Club, a longtime ally of Mr. Reed’s in a red “Support Our Troops” sweater pulled the candidate close and whispered anxiously in his ear."

Abu Ghraib Rewarded - New York Times

Abu Ghraib Rewarded - New York Times: "William Haynes II, the Pentagon’s general counsel, has been closely involved in shaping some of the Bush administration’s most legally and morally objectionable policies, notably on the use of torture. The last thing he is suited to be is a federal judge, but that is just what President Bush wants to make him. The Senate has been far too willing to rubber-stamp the president’s extreme judicial nominees. But there is reason to hope that strong opposition to Mr. Haynes, including from the military, may block this thoroughly inappropriate choice."

In an About-Face, Sunnis Want U.S. to Remain in Iraq - New York Times

In an About-Face, Sunnis Want U.S. to Remain in Iraq - New York Times: "As sectarian violence soars, many Sunni Arab political and religious leaders once staunchly opposed to the American presence here are now saying they need American troops to protect them from the rampages of Shiite militias and Shiite-run government forces.

The pleas from the Sunni Arab leaders have been growing in intensity since an eruption of sectarian bloodletting in February, but they have reached a new pitch in recent days as Shiite militiamen have brazenly shot dead groups of Sunni civilians in broad daylight in Baghdad and other mixed areas of central Iraq."

So we are now being welcomed as heroes? Or do they want us to clean up the mess we've made?

Friday, July 14, 2006

C&L: TDS on Novak: Snakes on a Plame

Crooks and Liars - TDS on Novak: Snakes on a Plame: "You knew Stewart was going to have a field day with Novak, Rove, Cheney and Hannity." Check out the video.

Page on Obama's call to close the religion gap with Democrats

Clarence Page, from "Sen. Barack Obama's call for Democrats to close the religion gap with Republicans shows a keen grasp of the obvious. The tougher question is how this gap is to be closed.

As Obama noted in his much-talked-about speech at the Call to Renewal's 'Building a Covenant for a New America' conference of religious liberals on June 28 in Washington, the biggest gap in party affiliation among white Americans today is 'between those who attend church regularly and those who don't.'

The speech, which Obama has posted on his Web site, was well received but also widely misinterpreted. Some members of the Democratic Party's progressive wing worry that Obama is going to lead moderates to sell off pieces of the party's soul. Quite the contrary, it sounds more like an appeal to help the party rediscover its soul and improve its delivery of its message.

The right-wing voices such as Pat Robertson, the Rev. Jerry Falwell or Obama's former GOP opponent, Alan Keyes, will continue to hold sway, Obama said, if Democrats 'don't reach out to evangelical Christians and other religious Americans and tell them what we stand for.'

Conservatives openly ridicule the prospect of evangelicals returning to the Democratic Party they used to support. But, in private, it probably worries them as much as Democrats are haunted by the prospect of black voters returning to the party of Abe Lincoln."

Too Good for Marriage - New York Times

Too Good for Marriage - A New York Times op-ed piece by Kenji Yoshino explores the reasons the NY court rejected gay marriage: "The more traditional argument stated that the Legislature could reasonably suppose that children would fare better under the care of a mother and father. Like most arguments against gay marriage, this “role model” argument assumes straight couples are better guides to life than gay couples.

And like other blatantly anti-gay arguments, it falls apart under examination. In a decision last month in a case concerning gay foster parents, the Arkansas Supreme Court found no evidence that children raised by gay couples were disadvantaged compared with children raised by straight couples.

But the New York court also put forth another argument, sometimes called the “reckless procreation” rationale. “Heterosexual intercourse,” the plurality opinion stated, “has a natural tendency to lead to the birth of children; homosexual intercourse does not.” Gays become parents, the opinion said, in a variety of ways, including adoption and artificial insemination, “but they do not become parents as a result of accident or impulse.”

Consequently, “the Legislature could find that unstable relationships between people of the opposite sex present a greater danger that children will be born into or grow up in unstable homes than is the case with same-sex couples.”

To shore up those rickety heterosexual arrangements, “the Legislature could rationally offer the benefits of marriage to opposite-sex couples only.” Lest we miss the inversion of stereotypes about gay relationships here, the opinion lamented that straight relationships are “all too often casual or temporary.”

When an Indiana court introduced this seemingly heterophobic logic last year in upholding a state ban on same-sex marriage, I thought it was a cockeyed aberration. But after both New York City and New York State presented similar logic in oral arguments, and the court followed suit, I began to understand the argument’s appeal: it sounds nicer to gays."

Bush Would Let Secret Court Sift Wiretap Process - New York Times

Bush Would Let Secret Court Sift Wiretap Process - New York Times: "After months of resistance, the White House agreed Thursday to allow a secret intelligence court to review the legality of the National Security Agency’s program to conduct wiretaps without warrants on Americans suspected of having ties to terrorists.

If approved by Congress, the deal would put the court, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, in the unusual position of deciding whether the wiretapping program is a legitimate use of the president’s power to fight terrorism. The aim of the plan, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales told reporters, would be to “test the constitutionality” of the program.

The plan, brokered over the last three weeks in negotiations between Senator Arlen Specter and senior White House officials, including President Bush himself, would apparently leave the secretive intelligence court free to consider the case in closed proceedings, without the kind of briefs and oral arguments that are usually part of federal court consideration of constitutional issues. The court’s ruling in the matter could also remain secret.

The court would be able to determine whether the program is “reasonably designed” to focus on the communications of actual terrorism suspects and people in the United States who communicate with them. That determination is now left entirely in the hands of the security agency under an internal checklist.

If the court were to rule the program unconstitutional, the attorney general could refine and resubmit it or, conversely, appeal the decision to the FISA appellate court and ultimately perhaps the Supreme Court, officials said."

Thursday, July 13, 2006

C&L: Novak lied!

Crooks and Liars has the proof... but are we surprised?: "Robert Novak lied about Murray Waas and other reporters from his apperance on H&C last night claiming that nobody else picked up the story that Novak told Rove he wouldn’t identify him to Patrick Fitzgerald."

Firedoglake : The Voting Rights Act

Firedoglake - The Voting Rights Act: "I have been watching the debate over the renewal of the Voting Rights Act on C-SPAN and to say it is a friggin’ bigot parade is an understatement. One white GOP cracker after another coming up and trying to parse attempts to gut the bill as common-sense measures of 'restraint.' Really, it is Jim Crow all over again." Jane has video of Maxine Waters' speech.

TP: Rep. King Designs Electrified Fence For Southern Border: ‘We Do This With Livestock All The Time’

Think Progress has a link to the video. The guy is obviously brilliant: "Rep. Steve King (R-IA) went on the House floor on Tuesday to discuss a fence that he “designed” for the southern boarder. (King constructed a model of the fence as he was speaking.) King’s design features a wire electrified “with the kind of current that would not kill somebody.” King noted that “we do this with livestock all the time.”"

AP: Former CIA officer sues Cheney over leak

You go girl: "The CIA officer whose identity was leaked to reporters sued Vice President Dick Cheney, his former top aide and presidential adviser Karl Rove on Thursday, accusing them and other White House officials of conspiring to destroy her career.

In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, Valerie Plame and her husband, Joseph Wilson, a former U.S. ambassador, accused Cheney, Rove and I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby of participating in a 'whispering campaign' to reveal Plame's CIA identity and punish Wilson for criticizing the Bush administration's motives in Iraq."

HuffPo's Eric Alterman: Robert Novak, Traitor to His Country; Traitor to His Profession

The Blog | Eric Alterman: Robert Novak, Traitor to His Country; Traitor to His Profession | The Huffington Post: "The upshot here appears to be that Novak lied to everyone in order to betray his country on behalf of Rove and company. First he revealed the name of an active CIA officer, blowing any and all operations with which she has ever been involved, costing the country millions, and possibly endangering lives despite the specific request from the agency that he not do so. "

Army Plans to End Contentious Halliburton Logistics Pact and Split Work Among Companies - New York Times

Army Plans to End Contentious Halliburton Logistics Pact and Split Work Among Companies - New York Times: "The Army plans to terminate and restructure a lucrative and enormously contentious logistics contract that has paid a single company, Halliburton, more than $15 billion to do jobs like deliver food and fuel and construct housing for American troops around the world since late 2001.

The changes, described in draft contracting documents on Army Web sites, await final Pentagon approval, said Linda K. Theis, a spokeswoman for the Army Field Support Command in Rock Island, Ill., which oversees the contract. But they have already received extensive review and are moving through the upper echelons of the Army, she said.

If the plans are carried through, Halliburton’s contract will end, and the tasks it does will be divided among as many as four companies. One company will be an umbrella for planning and oversight, and the others will compete for the actual job orders — things like building camps and delivering fuel in war zones.

The Army said it hoped this approach would foster competition and lower the risks of having one large contractor in charge of critical military programs. Critics of the exclusive, no-bid contract, including Representative Henry A. Waxman, a California Democrat, say it has allowed Halliburton to charge unreasonably high costs for some work. They have often pointed to the deal with Halliburton, which was led by Dick Cheney before he quit to become vice president, as an example of cronyism by the Bush administration in awarding lucrative contracts."

In Georgia County, Divisions of North and South Play Out in Drives to Form New Cities - New York Times

It's the new version of white flight--instead of moving, just create your own little kingdom: "The board of commissioners in Fulton County has a rather dry term for the revolt that is under way here: municipalization. Everyone else calls it secession.

Except this time around, the north started it.

It began last year when Sandy Springs, a largely white, wealthy community north of Atlanta, chose to incorporate as a city so that it would no longer be under the control of county government, which is dominated 4 to 3 by black Democrats. Now that action has led other unincorporated areas of the county to consider becoming cities, and the movement includes even the county’s poorest areas.

Four referendums on incorporation are planned for the next year. Their passage would change the face of one of the nation’s most populous counties, leaving it with no unincorporated areas and a budget tens of millions of dollars smaller.

The county may no longer provide police, fire and road maintenance to the 140,000 of its 900,000 residents who now live in unincorporated areas. Sandy Springs, viewed by incorporation advocates as a model, has contracted out most of its functions in what experts say is the most extensive experiment to date in municipal privatization.

Fulton County is long and ungainly, more than 70 miles from tip to tip. Atlanta occupies the middle section, leaving the north and south geographically separate, as well as demographically distinct. The area north of Atlanta is whiter, wealthier and more developed; the southern section has far more blacks and undeveloped land."

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

R&EN: Barbara Brown Taylor

Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly, the PBS weekly program, had a segment on Barbara Brown Taylor, whose latest book, Leaving Church, I just finished reading. Worth checking out; here's a small snippet: "Here's the way I presently live with doubt. Doubt often brings me to poke at what I believe, and when it topples, I realize that was an idol. And so doubt and disillusionment have been the divine gifts that have led me deeper into who God is."

Political jibe in the morning comics?

Judge Parker's guest gets a dig in.

Tucker: Austin's fate escapes many deserving it

Cynthia Tucker on Dallas Austin's luck, from the AJC: "Last week, Atlanta music producer Dallas Austin got lucky --- in the way that the wealthy and well-connected so often do. He was granted an immediate pardon by the ruler of Dubai after he was sentenced to four years in prison for entering the emirate in May with just over a gram of cocaine.

Austin has made plenty of money writing and producing hits for artists from Madonna to Janet Jackson. And he just happens to be a client of the same entertainment law firm that represents U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah); while best known for his conservative politics, Hatch has also written and recorded patriotic and religious songs. The senator --- seen as an ally of Dubai because he defended its quest to manage some U.S. ports --- joined such celebrities as Lionel Richie and Quincy Jones in campaigning for leniency.

I'm delighted that Austin was freed and allowed to return home (where he was first seen publicly in church). I've never believed possession of small amounts of illegal narcotics is an offense worthy of years in prison --- here or abroad. I just wish that the influence brought to bear on Austin's behalf would be used to mitigate prison sentences for hundreds of thousands of Americans --- many of them black men --- who have been sent to prison for nonviolent drug offenses."

Cohen: Same-sex couples deserve life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness

Cohen in WaPo, via "There are exactly 316 benefits of marriage. I learned that from the decision of New York's highest court upholding the ban on same-sex marriage, which means that the often-wed Elizabeth Taylor has enjoyed these benefits 2,528 times, while a lesbian could not have any of them, despite having a stable relationship and a child or two. If it pleases the court, your decision is just plain idiotic.

I choose Taylor because she is everything this very important court (New York, after all) did not take into account in upholding its touchingly Victorian version of marriage. The majority decision, written by Judge Robert S. Smith, more or less said that marriage has traditionally been between opposite sexes --- and, until the Legislature decides differently, it should stay that way. Reading the decision induces vertigo from page after page of circular reasoning.

More compelling, more logical, more humane is the dissent of Chief Judge Judith Kaye, who likened the ban on same-sex marriage to the one that once prohibited interracial marriage in 30 states. When, at last, the U.S. Supreme Court in 1967 finally outlawed this racist prohibition in the 17 states that still retained it, its defenders argued that it was unnatural and contrary to the will of God. For some reason, he did not file an amicus brief."

Bush concedes terror detainee rights under Geneva Conventions

NYT via "The White House conceded for the first time Tuesday that terror suspects held by the United States had a right under international law to basic human and legal protections under the Geneva Conventions.

The statement, reversing a position held since shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, represents a victory for those within the Bush administration who have argued that the refusal of the United States to extend Geneva protections to al-Qaida prisoners was harming the country's standing abroad. It said the White House would withdraw a portion of an executive order issued by President Bush in 2002 saying that terror suspects were not covered by the Geneva Conventions.

The White House said the change was in keeping with the Supreme Court decision two weeks ago that struck down Bush's plans for military tribunals. A Defense Department memo made public earlier in the day had concluded that the court decision also meant that terror suspects in military custody had legal rights under the Geneva Convention.

The new White House interpretation is likely to have sweeping implications, because it appears to apply to all al-Qaida and Taliban terrorist suspects currently in the custody of the CIA or other U.S. intelligence agencies around the world. From the outset, Bush declared that the battle against al-Qaida would be a war like no other, but his administration has been forced to back away from its most aggressive efforts to deny rights to terror suspects."

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

My Leak Case Testimony by Robert Novak

HUMAN EVENTS ONLINE - My Leak Case Testimony by Robert Novak: "Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has informed my attorneys that, after two and one-half years, his investigation of the CIA leak case concerning matters directly relating to me has been concluded. That frees me to reveal my role in the federal inquiry that, at the request of Fitzgerald, I have kept secret."

TP: Novak Outs Former CIA Spokesman As ‘Confirming’ Source On Plame

Think Progress has news about Novak Outing Former CIA Spokesman As ‘Confirming’ Source On Plame--see the Hardball transcript here, as well as the WaPo on Harlow's side (earlier expressed). TP's closing note: "There has always been tension between Harlow’s and Novak’s accounts. Novak has claimed that while Harlow asked him not to publish the name, Harlow “never suggested to [Novak] that Wilson’s wife or anybody else would be endangered.” (But Novak did acknowledge Harlow told him that Plame’s outing would cause “difficulties.”) Novak wrote, “If he had, I would not have used her name.”"

Religion Taking A Left Turn?

Religion Taking A Left Turn?, Conservative Christians Watch Out: There's A Big Churchgoing Group Seeking Political Power - CBS News: "At a church in Washington, hundreds of committed Christians met recently and tried to map out a strategy to get their values into the political debate.

But these are not the conservative Christian values which have been so influential lately. This is the religious left.

'Jesus called us to love our neighbor, love our enemy, care for the poor, care for the outcast, and that's really the moral core of where we think the nation ought to go,' Dr. Bob Edgar, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches told CBS News correspondent Russ Mitchell.

The National Council of Churches represents about 50 million Christians in America — the majority of them mainline Protestants.

'Jesus never said one word about homosexuality, never said one word about civil marriage or abortion,' Edgar said.

He calls this movement the 'center-left' — and it's seeking the same political muscle as the conservative Christians, a group with a strong power base in the huge Evangelical churches of the South.

But the left has its own Evangelical leaders, such as the Rev. Tony Campolo.

'We are furious that the religious right has made Jesus into a Republican. That's idolatry,' Campolo said. 'To recreate Jesus in your own image rather than allowing yourself to be created in Jesus' image is what's wrong with politics.'

The Christian left is focusing on:
# Fighting poverty
# Protecting the environment
# Ending the war in Iraq

'Right now the war in Iraq costs us $1 billion per week,' said Rev. Jim Wallis, a Christian activist. 'And we can't get $5 billion over ten years for child care in this country?' "

Monday, July 10, 2006

C&L: Malveaux on North Korea with Bush

Crooks and Liars: Malveaux on North Korea with Bush: "An interesting exchange between CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux and Bush about North Korea from last week."

I think it's kind of bizarre myself.

Drudge: Bush would veto stem cell bill

Drudge has a flash report up about the possibility of Bush's first veto--and it's pro-life? Not: "President Bush likely will cast the first veto of his presidency if the Senate, as expected, passes legislation to expand federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research, White House aide Karl Rove said Monday.

'The president is emphatic about this,' Rove said in a meeting with the editorial board of The DENVER POST, newsroom sources tell the DRUDGE REPORT.

The U.S. House of Representatives has already passed the legislation, co-sponsored by Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., and Rep. Mike Castle, R-Del. If the Senate approves the bill this month it would go to the president's desk.

'It is something we would, frankly, like to avoid,' Rove said "

HuffPo: What Bill Clinton Would Ask Karl Rove

Bill Clinton Says He'd Ask Rove What He'd Do If Clinton's Political Adviser Had Blown The Cover Of A CIA Agent... | The Huffington Post: "Back in Aspen, former President Bill Clinton sounded off on a multitude of problems confronting the nation Friday that included disease, destruction and Karl Rove.

As for Rove, who is scheduled to speak at the Aspen Institute on Sunday, Clinton didn't hold back when Atlantic Monthly national correspondent James Fallows asked him what one question he would ask President Bush's highly controversial political operative.

Always the overachiever, Clinton didn't invent just one question he would ask Rove, he came up with three. The 42nd president said he most wanted to know what Rove would do had Clinton's senior advisor blown the cover of a CIA agent who happened to be married to the man who refused to falsify findings about nuclear transactions taking place between Niger and Iraq (see Valerie Plame). And he openly wondered whether Rove would instruct Republican congressmen to call a White House official who would do such a thing a traitor. Lastly, Clinton wanted to know why it is that, if the Bush administration is as concerned with national security as it claims, why it would spend 20 times the amount of money it would take to shore up gaps in port security to repeal the estate tax for the nation's elite, which consists of less than one percent of the population.

Speaking to the first question he'd ask Rove, Clinton said; 'I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if he'd say that's exactly what I'd ask (Congress) to do, and I don't know why they didn't. I mean this guy is good. You don't understand this strip of the Republican party that controls everything basically,' Clinton said. 'These people are all white Protestant males. They don't do anything that surprises me. I've seen this my whole life.'"

Congressman Says Program Was Disclosed by Informant - New York Times

Congressman Says Program Was Disclosed by Informant - New York Times: "The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said Sunday that the Bush administration briefed the panel on a 'significant' intelligence program only after a government whistle-blower alerted him to its existence and he pressed President Bush for details.

The chairman, Representative Peter Hoekstra, Republican of Michigan, wrote in a May 18 letter to Mr. Bush, first disclosed publicly on Saturday by The New York Times, that the administration's failure to notify his committee of this program and others could be a 'violation of law.'

Mr. Hoekstra expanded on his concerns in a television appearance on Sunday, saying that when the administration withholds information from Congress, 'I take it very, very seriously.'

Mr. Hoekstra and other officials would not discuss the nature of the undisclosed intelligence programs. But officials have said he was not referring to the National Security Agency's wiretapping operation or to the Treasury Department's bank monitoring program, both of which he was informed about. Mr. Hoekstra made clear on Sunday that he was particularly troubled by the failure to notify the Intelligence Committee of one particular major program.

'We can't be briefed on every little thing that they are doing,' Mr. Hoekstra said in an interview on 'Fox News Sunday.' 'But in this case, there was at least one major — what I consider significant — activity that we had not been briefed on that we have now been briefed on. And I want to set the standard there, that it is not optional for this president or any president or people in the executive community not to keep the intelligence committees fully informed of what they are doing.'"

So what else is the administration doing to us that we don't know about?