Saturday, September 30, 2006

Pop Culture Posts -- at my other blog

In the past I included posts on pop culture, comics, movies, TV, etc. here, but I've spun off a separate blog for those posts. CephasWorld is now the intersection of faith, politics, and other surprises. For the more fun stuff, come visit the pop culture blog. Thanks!

Views on faith, prosperity don't always match |

Views on faith, prosperity don't always match--essay by Bradley Christianson-Barker in AJC: "What happens when faith is connected to prosperity? In the same way society perceives homeless people as having failed to engage the laws of success (i.e. hard work), so, too, they would have to be without faith. A one-sentence caveat in 'The Prayer of Jabez' acknowledges the dichotomy: 'Not that you wish others to reach for less, but for you, nothing but God's fullest blessing will do.' Considering people as 'others' consistently leads to marginalizing them. Wilkinson's theology leads to the same chilling fact as America's primary ideology —- poverty is due to the lack of faith just as much as it is due to an unwillingness to engage in the laws of success.

If the confusion of balancing society's ideals with personal or religious ethics, the hinge of complication for a Judeo- Christian perspective on prosperity comes in the form of our most trusted source: Scripture. In the Hebrew Bible, Deuteronomy promises wealth through monetary blessings in exchange for obeying the law. In contrast, the prophets consistently stand up for the marginalized and the dispossessed, attacking the wealthy and powerful, who inevitably misuse and abuse the marginalized."

University study finds pews not as empty as thought

University study finds pews not as empty as thought | Researchers have found that more people are going to church than originally thought, because they haven't officially joined a particular denomination or church, but they still go.

The breakdown of U.S. religious affiliation:

33.6%; evangelical Protestant

22.1%: mainline Protestant

21.2%: Catholic

10.8%: unaffiliated

5%: black Protestant

2.5%: Jewish

4.9%: other

Source: Baylor Religion Survey"

Sachs: Escaping US President Bush's vision of the future

Columbia prof Jeffrey Sachs has an interesting guest editorial in Bangkok's The Nation: "Ever since Winston Churchill led the conversion of Britain's navy from coal to oil at the start of the last century, the Western powers have meddled incessantly in the affairs of Middle Eastern countries to keep the oil flowing, toppling governments and taking sides in wars in the supposed 'great game' of energy resources. But the game is almost over, because the old approaches are obviously failing.

Just when one is lulled into thinking that something other than oil is at the root of current US and UK action in Iraq, reality pulls us back. Indeed, US President Bush recently invited journalists to imagine the world 50 years from now. He did not have in mind the future of science and technology, or a global population of nine billion, or the challenges of climate change and biodiversity. Instead, he wanted to know whether Islamic radicals would control the world's oil.

Whatever we are worrying about in 50 years, this will surely be near the bottom of the list. Even if it were closer to the top, overthrowing Saddam Hussein to ensure oil supplies in 50 years ranks as the least plausible of strategies. Yet we know from a range of evidence that this is what was on Bush's mind when his government shifted its focus from the search for Osama bin Laden to fighting a war in Iraq."

BBC: Bush 'concealing Iraq violence'

BBC NEWS | Americas | Bush 'concealing Iraq violence': "Veteran US journalist Bob Woodward has claimed that the true extent of insurgent attacks in Iraq has been hidden by the administration.

He makes the claim in a book, State of Denial, due to be released on Monday.

Mr Woodward has had better access to policymakers in the Bush White House than any other writer.

In a preview interview he also revealed that former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has become a frequent adviser to President Bush."

Daily Kos: Second Diebold Whistleblower comes forward on GA 2002

Daily Kos: Second Diebold Whistleblower comes forward on GA 2002: "After the tantalizing reference to the Georgia 2002 Race in Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s last Friday Rolling Stone article ... a second whistleblower has come forward to claim a 'secret patch' was ordered applied to voting machines by Diebold Executive Urosevich [Chief of Diebold's Election Division]"

This obviously would explain some things.

Friday, September 29, 2006

HuffPo: Wash Times editor is racist, wife says

George Archibald: Top Washington Times Editor's Wife Confirms Racism Allegations | The Huffington Post: "The second most powerful editor at The Washington Times is a white supremacist racist who says blacks are 'born genetically 15 to 20 IQ points lower than a white person' and that abortion is necessary 'to keep the black and minority population down in this country.' His wife, Marian, confirmed this, on the record, in an interview with reporter Max
Blumenthal for the Oct. 9 issue of The Nation magazine.

Francis B. Coombs Jr., the managing editor of The Washington Times, a major media ally of the Bush administration, is described by multiple newsroom sources in Blumenthal's piece as an unreconstructed 'racial nationalist' and a hater of blacks and Jews."

WTO: Olbermann - pre-9/11 what did the Bush Adminstration really do

Where’s the Outrage has the video of Olbermann's commentary last night - pre-9/11 what did the Bush Adminstration really do: "Oh, now he’s done done it. Keith Olbermann and the folks at Countdown has put together exactly what the Bush administration was given prior to 9/11. I had some specific examples listed on my website. But it’s a little bit different when they list the exact documents. The one thing that I was not aware of was that Osama bin Laden may have been offered to the Bush administration in February of 2001! This is major. Ari Fleischer was asked a question in February about an offer from Sudan brokered through Saudi Arabia to give up bin Laden. Ari Fleischer states that he’ll get back to the reporter and there is no record that he ever brought up the subject again. Interesting."

ABC: Foley resigns, ABC has graphic AOL chats

The Blotter: "Saying he was 'deeply sorry,' Congressman Mark Foley (R-FL) resigned from Congress today, hours after ABC News questioned him about sexually explicit internet messages with current and former congressional pages under the age of 18.

A spokesman for Foley, the chairman of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children, said the congressman submitted his resignation in a letter late this afternoon to Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert."

Rightfully so. But what would have happened in a world where homosexuality wasn't demonized by the Republican party?

Report Links White House and Lobbyist - New York Times

Report Links White House and Lobbyist - New York Times: "A bipartisan Congressional report documents hundreds of contacts between White House officials and the corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his partners, including at least 10 direct contacts between Mr. Abramoff and Karl Rove, the president’s chief political strategist.

The House Government Reform Committee report, based on e-mail messages and other records subpoenaed from Mr. Abramoff’s lobbying firm, found 485 contacts between Mr. Abramoff’s lobbying team and White House officials from 2001 to 2004, including 82 with Mr. Rove’s office.

The lobbyists spent almost $25,000 in meals and drinks for the White House officials and provided them with tickets to numerous sporting events and concerts, according to the report, scheduled for release Friday."

New Woodward Book Says Bush Ignored Urgent Warning on Iraq - New York Times

New Woodward Book Says Bush Ignored Urgent Warning on Iraq - New York Times: "The White House ignored an urgent warning in September 2003 from a top Iraq adviser who said that thousands of additional American troops were desperately needed to quell the insurgency there, according to a new book by Bob Woodward, the Washington Post reporter and author. The book describes a White House riven by dysfunction and division over the war.

The warning is described in “State of Denial,” scheduled for publication on Monday by Simon & Schuster. The book says President Bush’s top advisers were often at odds among themselves, and sometimes were barely on speaking terms, but shared a tendency to dismiss as too pessimistic assessments from American commanders and others about the situation in Iraq."

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Antiterrorism Bill on Detainees, Geneva Conventions - Rushing Off a Cliff - New York Times

Antiterrorism Bill on Detainees, Geneva Conventions - Rushing Off a Cliff - New York Times Editorial: "Here’s what happens when this irresponsible Congress railroads a profoundly important bill to serve the mindless politics of a midterm election: The Bush administration uses Republicans’ fear of losing their majority to push through ghastly ideas about antiterrorism that will make American troops less safe and do lasting damage to our 217-year-old nation of laws — while actually doing nothing to protect the nation from terrorists. Democrats betray their principles to avoid last-minute attack ads. Our democracy is the big loser.

Republicans say Congress must act right now to create procedures for charging and trying terrorists — because the men accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks are available for trial. That’s pure propaganda. Those men could have been tried and convicted long ago, but President Bush chose not to. He held them in illegal detention, had them questioned in ways that will make real trials very hard, and invented a transparently illegal system of kangaroo courts to convict them.

It was only after the Supreme Court issued the inevitable ruling striking down Mr. Bush’s shadow penal system that he adopted his tone of urgency. It serves a cynical goal: Republican strategists think they can win this fall, not by passing a good law but by forcing Democrats to vote against a bad one so they could be made to look soft on terrorism."

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

TP: ‘Values Voter Summit’ Features Attack on ‘Faggots,’ Claim That Gay Rights Movement Inspired ‘From The Pit Of Hell Itself’

Think Progress - ‘Values Voter Summit’ Features Attack on ‘Faggots,’ Claim That Gay Rights Movement Inspired ‘From The Pit Of Hell Itself’: "This weekend, some of the nation’s leading conservatives — from Tony Snow and Attorney General Gonzales to Sen. George Allen (R-VA) and Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AK) to Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity — appeared at the Family Research Council’s “Values Voter Summit.”

An hour and a half after Snow’s speech, Bishop Wellington Boone, founder of the Wellington Boone Ministries, took the stage and announced, “I want the gays mad at me.” Boone said that while “the gays” are “saying a few things” about him, “they’re not coming at me strong.” In an effort to change that, Boone declared:

Back in the days when I was a kid, and we see guys that don’t stand strong on principle, we call them “faggots.” … [People] that don’t stand up for what’s right, we say, “You’re sissified out!” “You’re a sissy!” That means you don’t stand up for principles.

As Right Wing Watch notes, another speaker at the conference later claimed “the gay rights movement was inspired ‘from the pit of hell itself,’ and has a ’satanic anointment.’ … He suggested that the anti-Christ is himself gay, citing a verse from the book of Daniel saying the anti-Christ will have no desire for a woman.”"

RawStory: 2001 memo to Rice contradicts statements about Clinton, Pakistan

The Raw Story - 2001 memo to Rice contradicts statements about Clinton, Pakistan: "A memo received by United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice shortly after becoming National Security Advisor in 2001 directly contradicts statements she made to reporters yesterday, RAW STORY has learned."

Leonard Pitts on the Pope and his Muslim friends - Radicals are the ones who should say they're sorry: "For all that, though, I've had my fill of papal genuflection. In the first place, clumsily framed as it was, Benedict's point was clear and unassailable: True religion and violence are mutually exclusive.

In the second place, the violent response of some Muslims not only makes the pope's point but also slanders their religion more effectively than some centuries-old quote ever could. What is the Arabic word for irony?

Between this latest controversy and the rioting earlier this year over cartoon depictions of the Prophet Mohammed, there seems something pathetically reflexive about some Muslims' reaction to perceived religious insult. It's as if they are addicted to the faux power to be found in throwing a tantrum, threatening violence, demanding attention, forcing apologies."

NYT Ed: The Fine Art of Declassification

The Fine Art of Declassification - New York Times: "Mr. Bush decided to release this small, selected chunk of the report in reaction to an article on the intelligence assessment that appeared in The Times over the weekend. As a defense of his policies, it serves only to highlight the maddening circular logic that passes for a White House rationale. It goes like this: The invasion of Iraq has created an entire new army of terrorists who will be emboldened by an American withdrawal. Therefore, the United States has to stay indefinitely and keep fighting those terrorists.

By that logic, the more the United States fights, the longer the war stretches on.

It’s obvious why Mr. Bush did not want this report out, and why it is taking so long for the intelligence agencies to complete another report, solely on Iraq, that was requested by Congress in late July. It’s not credible that more time is needed to do the job. In 2002, the intelligence agencies completed a report on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction in less time. Mr. Bush also made selected passages of that report public to buttress his arguments for war with Iraq, most of which proved to be based on fairy tales.

Then, Mr. Bush wanted Americans to focus on how dangerous Saddam Hussein was, and not on the obvious consequences of starting a war in the Middle East. Now, he wants voters to focus on how dangerous the world is, and not on his utter lack of ideas for what to do about it."

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

WaPo: Three Retired Officers Demand Rumsfeld's Resignation -

Three Retired Officers Demand Rumsfeld's Resignation - "Three retired military officers who served in Iraq called today for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, telling a Democratic 'oversight hearing' on Capitol Hill that the Pentagon chief bungled planning for the U.S. invasion, dismissed the prospect of an insurgency and sent American troops into the fray with inadequate equipment.

The testimony by the three --two retired Army major generals and a former Marine colonel -- came a day after disclosure of a classified intelligence assessment that concluded the war in Iraq has fueled recruitment of violent Islamic extremists, helping to create a new generation of potential terrorists around the world and worsening the U.S. position."

C&L: Olbermann’s Special Comment on Clinton and Fox News

Crooks and Liars - Olbermann’s Special Comment: Are YOURS the actions of a true American?: "Keith pulled no punches and launched another smack down on Bush and FOX News…" Check it out.

Wolff in NYT: "Sabaay Jai" in Thailand

The Silk Revolution - New York Times op ed by Ismail Wolff, a freelance journalist in Bangkok: "At the Parliament building, hundreds of people had surrounded the tanks, chatting and taking photos in the spattering rain. No one seemed dismayed to see armored vehicles rolling through the capital. “This is a good day for our country,” I heard repeatedly.

Many people had been drained by the months of a high-stakes political battle between Mr. Thaksin and his opponents, which had been characterized by huge street protests, random bombings and the posturing over who had the endorsement of the king.

Thais were becoming increasingly divided and weary, without a sitting Parliament since an election six months ago that had been boycotted by the opposition and voided by the courts. They just wanted it to end, even if that meant the military ousting their elected leader, imposing martial law and suspending the nine-year-old Constitution.

As the tanks and troops took up positions across Bangkok the next morning, people came out to show their support for the soldiers, giving them flowers and welcoming them to their neighborhoods. The king also gave his blessing to the new military governing council, which has promised to install a civilian prime minister next week.

The message that Thais kept trying to tell me was that Thai democracy should not be compared to any other country’s.

“Our country will be better for this,” a close friend said to me as we sat smoking cigarettes and staring at troops on the corner by his house. “Today is a better day than yesterday. You may not understand, and may never will, but we needed to create a fresh start, and that is what has happened.”"

Monday, September 25, 2006

The future of newspapers?

I just downloaded and used the Beta of the new New York Times Reader. It's very, very cool. This I think is where newspapers are heading whenever they go paperless.

You install it on your PC, and it basically downloads the whole daily paper whenever you want it to. Everything is on the website already, but this is much easier to read and use. The format is so clear and intuitive. It fills your screen, whatever size or kind of screen you have. You can easily adjust the type size, email things, copy text, click to go to the web version (for blogging!), make notes, etc. You can read it offline.

It's brilliantly done. Of course, you have to register with the website. And you still can't read Times Select columns unless you pay (or subscribe to the, uh, paper edition). But everything else is free. I'm going to try it for a while and see how it goes.

Think Progress Fact Checks Clinton--Chris Wallace has never asked any of those questions

Think Progress - VIDEO: Clinton Sets The Record Straight On Terrorism, Smacks Down Fox News: "We fact-check Wallace’s claim that he asked Bush administration officials tough questions about their pre-9/11 efforts to combat terrorism here, here and here." You have to go there to see.

Frank James at ChiTrib: Nobody does it better than Bill

Frank James's blog at the Chicago Tribune website: "If I were Karl Rove or the Republican National Committee, I would pray former President Bill Clinton stays off television.

You just don’t want too many voters thinking that by voting for Democrats this November, they just might be voting for him.

If you haven’t seen Clinton’s performance during the interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, you really owe it to yourself. It was pure Clinton. Agree with him or not, he’s just incredibly entertaining, downright riveting to watch.

One of Clinton’s strengths is that he does passion really well (please, no Monica jokes.) He understands that as a politician you can have the facts on your side in a political argument all you want.

But if you can’t fire the emotions of voters, if you can’t get them to connect with you, you’re done for."

Rieckhoff in NYT: Bush's torture policies will hurt Americans

Do Unto Your Enemy... - New York Times: "America’s moral standing has eroded, thanks to its flawed rationale for war and scandals like Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and Haditha. The last thing we can afford now is to leave Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions open to reinterpretation, as President Bush proposed to do and can still do under the compromise bill that emerged last week.

Blurring the lines on the letter of Article 3 — it governs the treatment of prisoners of war, prohibiting “violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture” and “outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment” — will only make our troops’ tough fight even tougher. It will undermine the power of all the Geneva Conventions, immediately endanger American troops captured by the enemy and create a powerful recruiting tool for Al Qaeda.

But the fight over Article 3 concerns not only Al Qaeda and the war in Iraq. It also affects future wars, because when we lower the bar for the treatment of our prisoners, other countries feel justified in doing the same. Four years ago in Liberia, in an attempt to preserve his corrupt authority, President Charles Taylor adopted the Bush administration’s phrase “unlawful combatants” to describe prisoners he wished to try outside of civilian courts. Today Mr. Taylor stands before The Hague accused of war crimes."

Christian Conservatives Look to Re-energize Base - New York Times

Well, here we go again... look for more gay bashing from the right wing so they can get all excited about November: "Openly anxious about grass-roots disaffection from the Republican Party, conservative Christian organizers are reaching for ways to turn out voters this November, including arguing that recognizing same-sex marriage could also limit religious freedom.

Just two years after many conservative Christians exulted that their voter turnout efforts had pushed President Bush to re-election, organizers say their constituents are disengaged.

“There is disillusionment out there with Republicans,” said James C. Dobson, founder of the conservative Christian broadcaster Focus on the Family and the most influential voice in the movement. “That worries me greatly.”"

Sunday, September 24, 2006

AJC: Apologies, sorry and otherwise

An interesting look at what does and doesn't constitute a public apology - "'I am deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries to a few passages of my address which were considered offensive.''

In his minimalist mea culpa to Muslims last week, Pope Benedict XVI seemed to resort to the 'nonapology apology,' a classic technique used by many in public life. 'Terrible apology,' says Dr. Aaron Lazare, author of 'On Apology' and dean of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcestor. 'Any apology that has 'if' or 'but' in it is doomed,' says Lazare. 'You're not really apologizing.' A popular variant comes most often from husbands: 'I'm sorry for whatever I did.' The nonapology apology is also common in politics. A sampling:

'Yesterday, I apologized to anyone who may have been offended by the misinterpretation of my remarks.'

U.S. Sen. GEORGE ALLEN (R-Va.), whose campaign took a downward turn when he referred to a Democratic activist as 'Macaca' during a campaign stop"

Facing Facts on Iraq - New York Times

Facing Facts on Iraq - New York Times editorial: "Iraq is today a broken, war-torn country. Outside the relatively stable Kurdish northeast, virtually every family — Sunni or Shiite, rich or poor, powerful or powerless — must cope with fear and physical insecurity on an almost daily basis. The courts, when they function at all, are subject to political interference; street-corner justice is filling the vacuum. Religious courts are asserting their power over family life. Women’s rights are in retreat.

Growing violence, not growing democracy, is the dominant feature of Iraqi life. Every Iraqi knows this. Americans need to know it too."

The Big Gamble on Electronic Voting - New York Times

The Big Gamble on Electronic Voting - New York Times: "From 2003 to 2005, some $3 billion flew out of the federal purse for equipment purchases. Nothing said “state of the art” like a paperless voting machine that electronically records and tallies votes with the tap of a touch screen. Election Data Services, a political consulting firm that specializes in redistricting, estimates that about 40 percent of registered voters will use an electronic machine in the coming elections.

One brand of machine leads in market share by a sizable margin: the AccuVote, made by Diebold Election Systems. Two weeks ago, however, Diebold suffered one of the worst kinds of public embarrassment for a company that began in 1859 by making safes and vaults.

Edward W. Felten, a professor of computer science at Princeton, and his student collaborators conducted a demonstration with an AccuVote TS and noticed that the key to the machine’s memory card slot appeared to be similar to one that a staff member had at home.

When he brought the key into the office and tried it, the door protecting the AccuVote’s memory card slot swung open obligingly. Upon examination, the key turned out to be a standard industrial part used in simple locks for office furniture, computer cases, jukeboxes — and hotel minibars."

Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Worsens Terror Threat - New York Times

Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Worsens Terror Threat - New York Times: "A stark assessment of terrorism trends by American intelligence agencies has found that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks.

The classified National Intelligence Estimate attributes a more direct role to the Iraq war in fueling radicalism than that presented either in recent White House documents or in a report released Wednesday by the House Intelligence Committee, according to several officials in Washington involved in preparing the assessment or who have read the final document.

The intelligence estimate, completed in April, is the first formal appraisal of global terrorism by United States intelligence agencies since the Iraq war began, and represents a consensus view of the 16 disparate spy services inside government. Titled “Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States,’’ it asserts that Islamic radicalism, rather than being in retreat, has metastasized and spread across the globe.

An opening section of the report, “Indicators of the Spread of the Global Jihadist Movement,” cites the Iraq war as a reason for the diffusion of jihad ideology.

The report “says that the Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse,” said one American intelligence official."

Saturday, September 23, 2006

TP: Clinton Takes On Fox News

Think Progress has the FULL TRANSCRIPT: Clinton Takes On Fox News: "Today, President Bill Clinton taped an interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace, which is scheduled to be aired Sunday. He was told the interview would focus on his nonpartisan efforts to raise over $7 billion to combat the world’s biggest problems.

Early in the interview, Wallace attempted to smear Clinton with the same kind of misinformation contained in ABC’s Path to 9/11. Clinton was having none of it.

ThinkProgress has obtained a transcript of the interview. Here are some highlights –"

Detainee Deal Comes With Contradictions - New York Times

Detainee Deal Comes With Contradictions - New York Times: "The compromise reached on Thursday between Congressional Republicans and the White House on the interrogations and trials of terrorism suspects is, legal experts said yesterday, a series of interlocking paradoxes.

It would impose new legal standards that it forbids the courts to enforce.

It would guarantee terrorist masterminds charged with war crimes an array of procedural protections. But it would bar hundreds of minor figures and people who say they are innocent bystanders from access to the courts to challenge their potentially lifelong detentions.

And while there is substantial disagreement about just which harsh interrogation techniques the compromise would prohibit, there is no dispute that it would allow military prosecutors to use statements that had been obtained under harsh techniques that are now banned.

The complex, technical and often ambiguous language in the 94-page measure was a subject of debate, posturing and, perhaps, some wishful thinking yesterday. Each side in the hard-fought negotiations — the White House and the three opposing Republican senators — declared victory.

And human rights groups simultaneously insisted that the new bill should be read to forbid various tough antiterrorism tactics and cautioned that the Bush administration had been given too much power to make the rules."

Friday, September 22, 2006

AJC: Democrats defend Bush, knock Chavez

Democrats defend Bush, knock Chavez | "Congressional Democrats who usually hurl verbal fire and brimstone at President Bush came to his defense Thursday after Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez again branded Bush 'the devil.'

Chavez, said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, is an 'everyday thug.'

Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), another frequent Bush critic, said bad-mouthing the president is a privilege reserved for Americans, 'whether they voted for him or not.'

'Don't come to the United States and think, because we have problems with our president, that any foreigner can come to our country and not think that Americans do not feel offended when you offend our chief of state,' Rangel said in Washington."

AJC: Who is Ahmadinejad?

Is he a threat to world peace, a God-fearing patriot, or a yokel? At home and abroad, people are asking about Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ... Who is this man? | "Iran's fiery-tongued president sends shudders through Western capitals when he declares the right to develop nuclear power and threatens to wipe Israel off the map.

At the United Nations this week, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defiantly accused the United States of abusing its power and showed no signs of willingness to comply with Security Council demands that Iran suspend uranium enrichment.

At home, however, Ahmadinejad creates far more complex —- and in some cases, far from flattering —- impressions that bear little resemblance to his image abroad as the greatest potential threat to global security today.

In Tehran's impoverished southern neighborhoods, Ahmadinejad is admired as a champion of conservative religious values and the promise of better economic days ahead.

In fashionable restaurants on the opposite side of the traffic-choked capital, however, the 50-year-old president is the butt of jokes deriding him as a village idiot for his rustic ways."

AJC: Lawmaker says 'vote for torture' comment meant as joke

Lawmaker says 'vote for torture' comment meant as joke | "Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) said Thursday he was making a joking reference and did not mean to be taken literally when he said at two recent events that he 'voted for torture.'

'What I should have said was that I voted against an anti-torture bill that did not define what torture was,' Westmoreland said."

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Episcopal church to battle IRS

Episcopal News Service: "The Rev. J. Edwin Bacon, rector of All Saints Church, announced September 21 that he will not turn over parish records to Internal Revenue Service auditors, paving the way for a court hearing on allegations the church engaged in political campaigning.

'We are here not for ourselves alone but to defend the freedom of pulpits in faith communities throughout our land,' said Bacon, who was flanked by a sea of Muslim, Jewish and Christian supporters, parishioners and Los Angeles-area clergy, among them the Rev. George Regas, whose anti-war sermon sparked the IRS' audit of the 3,500-member congregation.

'American pulpits in mosques, synagogues, temples and churches must not cower from the responsibility to speak truth to power, include any and every expression of American exceptionalism that through policy and practice values American life above other life,' Bacon told the gathering. 'All life is sacred to God. We are called by God's vision to turn the human race into the human family.'

All Saints Senior Warden Bob Long's announcement that the congregation's 26-member vestry voted unanimously to challenge the IRS brought more than a hundred parishioners and others gathered at the Pasadena church to their feet in hearty approval and sustained applause.

'All Saints has nothing to hide from the IRS,' Long said. 'We came to this decision because we believe that these summonses intolerably infringe upon our Constitutional rights and the IRS regulations that embody those principles-namely, the First Amendment rights of this church to speak and worship freely-rights that are indispensable to this church and to faith communities throughout our great country.'"

Raw: Conservative websites claim Rove has been promising GOP insiders an 'October surprise'

The Raw Story - Conservative websites claim Rove has been promising GOP insiders an 'October surprise': "According to two conservative websites, White House political strategist Karl Rove has been promising GOP insiders that there will be an 'October surprise' before the midterm elections.

'In the past week, Karl Rove has been promising Republican insiders an 'October surprise' to help win the November congressional elections,' reports Ronald Kessler for Newsmax."

The Nation (BKK): Sonthi outsmarted Thaksin at the eleventh hour

Fascinating behind-the-scenes editorial about the Thai coup, indicating that the General had to move fast because Thaksin was about to assume stronger control over his opposition through a bloody confrontation leading to martial law: "Had Council for Democratic Reform under Constitutional Monarchy (CDRM) leader General Sonthi Boonyaratglin not moved as fast as he did to stage a coup on Tuesday, Thaksin Shinawatra would have launched his own coup a day later. Don't be fooled by Thaksin's claim that he stands for democracy."

BBC: Thai king remains centre stage

BBC NEWS - Thai king remains centre stage: "Throughout every twist and turn in Thailand's recent political history, there has been one constant figure.

King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who has been on the Thai throne for 60 years, is revered across the nation, with some people even seeing him as a virtual god.

Officially his power to influence political events is limited. But in practice he yields immense power, due to the high respect in which he is held.

That is why many Thai analysts are saying he must have at least been in favour of the coup on Tuesday night, which toppled Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

'The role of the king was critical in this crisis,' said Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a professor of political science at Chulalongkorn University.

'He is widely seen as having implicitly endorsed the coup.'

Sulak Siwalak, a well-known social critic, went further. 'Without his involvement, the coup would have been impossible,' he said.

The palace has made no direct comment since the takeover took place."

I was amazed when I visited Thailand in April/May how the royal family is so honored and beloved. The king part of the very fabric of Thailand. Very interesting.

Chicago Tribune: Red Letter Christians

Via SojoNet:: "I went to a press conference yesterday and a church service broke out.

The press conference at the National Press Club was held by the new Red Letter Christians network, Christian communicators who say they want to change how Christians influence the national public policy debate. The Religious Right, with its focus on a narrow set of issues like abortion and gay rights, has dominated the public arena for too long, says the RLC.

But Jesus, whose words in many Bibles are printed in red, hence the new group's name, was concerned about social justice issues like poverty and discrimination that are as neglected on the RR’s agenda as the robbery victim on the Jericho road in Jesus's parable of the Good Samaritan, say RLC members.

What would Jesus do? is a line popular among Christians. The RLCs add a new wrinkle, a new way for assessing policy and political candidates: What did Jesus say?"

While Nixon Campaigned, the F.B.I. Watched John Lennon - New York Times

While Nixon Campaigned, the F.B.I. Watched John Lennon - New York Times: "In December 1971, John Lennon sang at an Ann Arbor, Mich., concert calling for the release of a man who had been given 10 years in prison for possessing two marijuana cigarettes. The song he wrote for the occasion, “John Sinclair,” was remarkably effective. Within days, the Michigan Supreme Court ordered Mr. Sinclair released.

What Lennon did not know at the time was that there were F.B.I. informants in the audience taking notes on everything from the attendance (15,000) to the artistic merits of his new song. (“Lacking Lennon’s usual standards,” his F.B.I. file reports, and “Yoko can’t even remain on key.”) The government spied on Lennon for the next 12 months, and tried to have him deported to England.

This improbable surveillance campaign is the subject of a new documentary, “The U.S. vs. John Lennon.” The film makes two important points about domestic surveillance, one well-known, the other quite surprising. With the nation in the midst of a new domestic spying debate, the story is a cautionary tale."

Keep Christ Out of the Christmas Tree - New York Times

Keep Christ Out of the Christmas Tree - New York Times: "Taxpayers may find it hard to believe that the must-pass $500 billion defense budget could be held hostage to a mischievous amendment empowering evangelical chaplains to speak in the name of Jesus at nonreligious military gatherings. But that is the case in Congress, where hard-right Republicans have held up passage of the defense bill in an attempt to license zealot chaplains to violate policies of religious tolerance at secular ceremonies.

Despite the firm opposition of the Pentagon and ecumenical chaplain groups, House Republicans have been defending this egregious pro-evangelical thumb on the scale in negotiations with the Senate."

U.N. Finds Baghdad Toll Far Higher Than Cited - New York Times

Bad news in Iraq gets even worse: "A United Nations report released Wednesday says that 5,106 people in Baghdad died violent deaths during July and August, a number far higher than reports that have relied on figures from the city’s morgue.

Across the country, the report found, 3,590 civilians were killed in July — the highest monthly total on record — and 3,009 more were killed in August. There were 4,309 Iraqi civilians reported wounded in August, a 14 percent increase from July."

Only 25% in Poll Approve of the Congress - New York Times

People dislike Congress even more than they do Bush: "With barely seven weeks until the midterm elections, Americans have an overwhelmingly negative view of the Republican-controlled Congress, with substantial majorities saying that they disapprove of the job it is doing and that its members do not deserve re-election, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll."

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Luckovich on words this time

In his new cartoon collection, "Four More Wars!" Mike Luckovich introduces a section of Bush cartoons thusly:

...Two groups have overwhelmingly benefited by having Bush in office. Rich people and cartoonists.

What drives me nuts is no matter how much Bush screws up and lies about it, over thirty percent of Americans still support him. I'm sure that if he were to take a crap on his Oval Office desk, that same thirty percent would salute it. Not only that, right-wing media types like Rush and Sean Hannity would start calling it 'the Pyramid of Freedom.'"

Ha! This is a great collection.

Absolutely hilarious...

...and horribly scary. The Daily Show interviewed the Arabic linguist who was thrown out for being homosexual, and a spokesperson for Focus on the Family--who looks to me like he's wearing makeup.

God's Politics - Jim Wallis blog, religion blog, faith and values, government

Jim Wallis has a new political faith blog at check out especially the ongoing debate he's having with Ralph Reed about values: "The monologue of the Religious Right is over and a new conversation has begun! In God's Politics, Jim Wallis will be joined by bloggers Brian McLaren, Amy Sullivan, Tony Campolo, Noel Castellanos, Robert Franklin, Diana Butler Bass, Sister Helen Prejean, Ron Sider, and others."

C&L: Why doesn’t the IRS investigate James Dobson?

Crooks and Liars - Why doesn’t the IRS investigate James Dobson?

John Amato links to stories about the IRS' investigation of George Regas' antiwar sermon at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena... and about Christian right political efforts this year, which apparently are being ignored by the IRS.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Luckovich live

Mike Luckovich gave a presentation at Atlanta's Margaret Mitchell House tonight, as part of the Center for Southern Literature program, and I enjoyed being there very much. Mike brought his whole family, wife Margo and three of his four kids I guess (the other is in college), plus Cynthia Tucker and Jay Bookman of the AJC editorial staff.

Mike was hilarious, showing some recent cartoons with commentary (including a sneak preview of tomorrow's), talking about how he comes up with ideas (usually on deadline in a panic), and reading from his new cartoon collection, FOUR MORE WARS! He also took questions and generally just had a good time. Needless to say my copy of his new book is autographed now.

Mike is a brilliant cartoonist, and the Pulitzer judges obviously agree, giving him his second such Prize this year. His fellow cartoonists also gave him their highest honor, the Reuben, and the National Cartoonists Society convention this year. He manages to nail the truth with good humor (though it's often painful humor). Kudos to Mike Luckovich!

By the way, here's the link to Mike's AJC blog.

And you can order his book from Amazon at a discount. See the ad in the column at right.

Thai army takeover temporary - Reuters

Thai coup spokesman says it's temporary, and they're in control: "The Thai armed forces' seizure of power is temporary and power will be 'returned to the people' soon, coup spokesman Lieutenant-General Prapart Sakuntanak said on television on Tuesday.

The coup was necessary because Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's government had divided the country and corruption was rampant, he said."

A message from our leader

Yeah, it's silly, but hey.

Thai Prime Minister Declares State of Emergency - New York Times

Thai Prime Minister Declares State of Emergency - New York Times: "The Thai military launched a coup against Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Tuesday night, circling his offices with tanks, seizing control of TV stations and declaring a provisional authority pledging loyalty to the king.

An announcement on Thai television declared that a 'Council of Administrative Reform' with King Bhumibol Adulyadej as head of state had seized power in Bangkok and nearby provinces without any resistance.

At least 14 tanks surrounded Government House, Thaksin's office. Thaksin was in New York at the U.N. General Assembly and declared a state of emergency via a government-owned TV station.

A convoy of four tanks rigged with loudspeakers and sirens rolled through a busy commercial district warning people to get off the street for their own safety.

A senior military official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation, said army Commander-in-Chief Gen. Sondhi Boonyaratkalin had used the military to take over power from the prime minister.

Thaksin has faced calls to step down amid allegations of corruption and abuse of power."

BBC: Thai arrests over Thaksin 'plot'

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Thai arrests over Thaksin 'plot': "Thai police say they have arrested five army officers over an alleged plot to kill Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Two weeks ago police intercepted a car, driven by one of the officers and carrying a large bomb, near his home.

But opponents have accused Mr Thaksin of fabricating the plot to boost his chances in October's general election.

Opinion is divided between rural voters who praise his policies on the poor, and urban opponents who accuse him of corruption and abuse of power.

The officers accused of this assassination attempt include a major general and a colonel. All come from Thailand's secretive counter-insurgency command, known as ISOC.

If proven, the plot would be an alarming development for a country which put the era of coups and military intervention behind it more than a decade ago."

BBC: 'Coup' sparks Thailand emergency

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | 'Coup' sparks Thailand emergency: "Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has declared a state of emergency in Bangkok amid reports of a coup attempt.

Soldiers have entered Government House and tanks have moved into position around the building.

Mr Thaksin, who is at the UN in New York, announced he had removed the chief of the army and had ordered troops not to 'move illegally'.

An army-owned TV station is showing images of the royal family and songs linked in the past with military coups.

Correspondents say that there have been low-level rumours of a possible coup for weeks.

Thai media say that two army factions appear to be heading for a clash, with one side backing the prime minister and the other side backing a rebel army chief."

The situation in Thai politics has been messy for months now. I was there in April/May and the King had had to enter in to the situation and call for a plan to clean up the screwed up election process. We'll keep an eye on this.

PastorDan on what's wrong with Sam Harris' approach

Street Prophets - Faith and Politics: "Let me be even more clear: violence is not the answer. Neither is intolerance. The war in Iraq is the primary reason we are less safe than we were before the Twin Towers fell. The useless bloodshed there has poured gasoline onto the fire of terror. If we are not to face an ever-growing problem, we must seek an assymetric solution.

That's why intolerance isn't the answer, either. I have no sympathies for fundamentalists of any stripe. I don't like Osama bin Laden, I don't like John Hagee, and I don't like Sam Harris. What all share is an arrogant disposition and an inclination to believe they have the sole right answer. But while they can kiss my grits, I won't allow them to drag me down to their level by making me intolerant. For the solution to violence and intolerance is not more - or smarter - of the same, but justice. It is corruption, violence, and political repression that keep Muslim extremism burning, not the fundamentalist ideology by itself. To say otherwise naively overlooks political realities and airily dismisses very real suffering. More to the point, by ramping up an unnecessary 'clash of civilizations,' it only gives extremists that much more incentive to defend the identity they see besieged by the West and its allies. (It's also an tacitly racist slur against the Europeans, with the unspoken assumption that if they'd just beat down the fellahin like civilized people, we wouldn't have such problems.)

If Sam Harris had the morals he imputes to himself, he'd understand that if you want to reap peace, you must sow justice. Islamic terrorism will persist as long as many Muslims feel politically oppressed, economically marginalized, and culturally adrift. But as it is, Harris is a hater, and he'd rather take the easy path of blaming those he perceives to be weak. What he winds up accomplishing, then, is not a rousing call-to-arms against religious literalism, but an exposing of just how intolerant and bloody-minded he really is. He belongs on Townhall or Little Green Footballs, but they wouldn't have him."

CNN: Voting machines vulnerable

Lou Dobbs reports on the ease of hacking voting machines... surprise! Then Miles O'Brien gives a chilling demonstration of how easy it is for a computer virus to change the results of an election.

Sklar: Remnick's brilliant piece on Clinton

Eat The Press - Remnick On Clinton On Everything, Picked Up By Nothing - The Huffington Post: "What do you get when you send esteemed and erudite New Yorker editor David Remnick around the world with the wildly popular former president of the United States, Bill Clinton, to talk about his life, work, legacy, and not-at-all-controversial-or-in-the-news-lately wife Hillary ? Quite a lot, actually: A massive 23-page story (with photos, poems and cartoons, but still) with anecdotes, frank exchanges, keen insights and some really, really good soundbytes. What you don't get is a link: The piece is not available online. Which means that what you also don't get is any online presence. At all."

I read this fascinating piece on the former President, and it made me miss him. Too bad the New Yorker hasn't put it online, but you can maybe grab it at a newsstand still. Sklar goes on to list some of the gems in the piece, which have gone totally ignored apparently in the media. Check it out.

Bush Detainee Plan Adds to World Doubts Of U.S., Powell Says -

Bush Detainee Plan Adds to World Doubts Of U.S., Powell Says - "Former secretary of state Colin L. Powell said yesterday that he decided to publicly oppose the Bush administration's proposed rules for the treatment of terrorism suspects in part because the plan would add to growing doubts about whether the United States adheres to its own moral code.

'If you just look at how we are perceived in the world and the kind of criticism we have taken over Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and renditions,' Powell said in an interview, 'whether we believe it or not, people are now starting to question whether we're following our own high standards.'"

Canadians Fault U.S. for Its Role in Torture Case - New York Times

Canadians Fault U.S. for Its Role in Torture Case - New York Times: "A government commission on Monday exonerated a Canadian computer engineer of any ties to terrorism and issued a scathing report that faulted Canada and the United States for his deportation four years ago to Syria, where he was imprisoned and tortured.

The report on the engineer, Maher Arar, said American officials had apparently acted on inaccurate information from Canadian investigators and then misled Canadian authorities about their plans for Mr. Arar before transporting him to Syria."

Monday, September 18, 2006

ABC News: Brainwashing kids for Jesus?

GetReligion: Time on the Prosperity Gospel

GetReligion has some thoughts about Time's cover article on the Prosperity Gospel: "In three of the Gospels, Jesus warns that each of his disciples may have to “deny himself” and even “take up his Cross.”

In support of this prediction, he contrasts the fleeting pleasures of today with the promise of eternity: “For what profit is it to a man,” he asks, “if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?”

Generations of churchgoers have understood that being Christian means being ready to sacrifice. But for a growing number of Christians, the question is better restated, “Why not gain the whole world plus my soul?”"

Raw Story: Danforth makes his case in new book

The Raw Story | Bush's second choice for Vice President to assail GOP over Schiavo, gay rights: "The former Missouri senator shortlisted to be then-Governor Bush's running mate in the 2000 presidential election -- said to have been second choice only to Vice President Cheney -- will come out vehemently against administration and Congressional Republican policy in a book to be published next week., according to an advance copy obtained by RAW STORY.

John Danforth, who retired in 1995 after four terms in the Senate, briefly served as Bush's ambassador to the United Nations but resigned after Condoleezza Rice was tapped to be Secretary of State. According to CNN, he was second on the list of Bush's potential vice presidential choices in 2000.

In Faith and Politics, to be released Tuesday, Danforth blasts the alignment of the Republican Party with the Christian right, lays out his most aggressive pro-gay stance to date and attacks the handling of the Terri Schiavo case.

Some people have asked me whether America is a Christian country. The answer must be no, for to call this a Christian country is to say that non-Christians are of some lesser order, not full fledged citizens of one nation.' Danforth is himself an ordained Episcopal minister."

NYT: Forbes to step down as pastor of Riverside Church

Minister of Riverside Church to Step Down - New York Times: "Riverside Church, whose Gothic sanctuary was modeled on the Cathedral at Chartres and built with money from John D. Rockefeller Jr., has had only five senior ministers. Under each of them, it has been a center of activism, open debate and dissent.

The first, the Rev. Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick, had already established himself as a prominent voice among liberal Protestants in the squabble against fundamentalists when he preached his first sermon at Riverside in 1930. The fourth, the Rev. Dr. William Sloane Coffin Jr., arrived in 1977 after crusading against the war in Vietnam in his previous post, as chaplain of Yale University.

Dr. Coffin’s successor, the Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes Jr., took the pulpit in 1989. Since then, he has welcomed Nelson Mandela and Fidel Castro, and the church has held memorial services for Betty Shabazz, the widow of Malcolm X, and Paul McCartney’s first wife, Linda.

But his years at Riverside, located at 119th Street and Riverside Drive in Manhattan, have also been marked by disagreements so deep that at one point a professional mediator had to be called in, and by allegations of financial mismanagement leveled by some members of the congregation.

Dr. Forbes told that congregation yesterday that he planned to retire in June after 18 years as senior minister. He said in an interview that he wanted to concentrate on a new ministry aimed at “maximizing the witness for spiritual revitalization and the nation’s spiritual revitalization.”"

NYT: "Path to 9/11" Postmortem

A Show That Trumpeted History but Led to Confusion - New York Times: "It’s little wonder that ABC’s mini-series “The Path to 9/11” drew stinging criticism earlier this month for its invented scenes, fabricated dialogue and unsubstantiated accounts of how the Clinton and Bush administrations conducted themselves in the years encompassing the World Trade Center attacks of 1993 and 2001.

A more puzzling question is why ABC spent $30 million on what, since it lacked commercials, amounted to a five-hour public service announcement.

While the two-night docudrama was shown without a sponsor, ABC did not always intend it to be so. As recently as July, ABC was discussing the possibility of running the program with limited commercials from one or two major sponsors.

The network also saw a potential market in schools. It hired Scholastic Inc., the educational publisher, to create a study guide for high school teachers to go along with the mini-series, a move that implied the network saw a future in DVD sales of the mini-series to schools.

In the end, however, Scholastic scrapped its original study guide and no sponsors stepped up to help ABC defray the cost of the program. While the network did sell foreign rights to the show in a few markets, including Britain, Australia and New Zealand, it was left to shoulder nearly all of the cost by itself.

Once it became clear that it would have to go without sponsors, ABC began to promote the mini-series as a public service. That decision left the network open to a weighty question: Is it truly a public service if it alienates a significant part of the audience?"

I.R.S. Eyes Religious Groups as More Enter Election Fray - New York Times

I.R.S. Eyes Religious Groups as More Enter Election Fray - New York Times: "With midterm elections less than two months away, Christian conservatives are enlisting churches in eight battleground states to register voters, gather crowds for rallies and distribute voters’ guides comparing the candidates’ stands on issues that conservatives consider “family values.”

This election year, however, the religious conservatives are facing resistance from newly invigorated religious liberals and moderates who are creating their own voters’ guides and are organizing events designed to challenge the conservatives’ definition of “values.”

Both religious flanks are looking nervously over their shoulders at the Internal Revenue Service, which this year announced a renewed effort to enforce laws that limit churches and charities from involvement in partisan political campaigns.

“We became concerned in the 2004 election cycle that we were seeing more political activity among charities, including churches,” said Lois G. Lerner, the director for exempt organizations at the I.R.S. “In fact, of the organizations we looked at, we saw a very high percentage of some improper political activity, and that is really why we have ramped up the program in 2006.”"

McCain, in New Hampshire, Gets an Earful From the Right - New York Times

McCain stands up to Bush and the right doesn't like it: "After months of orchestrated peace, the battle with Mr. Bush over the administration’s effort to reinterpret the Geneva Conventions has put Mr. McCain back into a familiar position: bucking the White House and at odds again with some conservatives, who had already been wary of his ideological views.

The dispute is shaping up as an early chapter in a shift of influence in the Republican Party away from Mr. Bush as he approaches the final two years of his administration, and toward its presidential nominee of 2008. And it is spotlighting divisions in the party as prospective presidential candidates jockey for support from the conservative wing."

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Joe Scarborough attacks Bush again

Save Yourself, Blame Bush - "I can't help but feel sorry for my old Republican friends in Congress who are fighting for their political lives. After all, it must be tough explaining to voters at their local Baptist church's Keep Congress Conservative Day that it was their party that took a $155 billion surplus and turned it into a record-setting $400 billion deficit.

How exactly does one convince the teeming masses that Republicans deserve to stay in power despite botching a war, doubling the national debt, keeping company with Jack Abramoff, fumbling the response to Hurricane Katrina, expanding the government at record rates, raising cronyism to an art form, playing poker with Duke Cunningham, isolating America and repeatedly electing Tom DeLay as their House majority leader?

How does a God-fearing Reagan Republican explain all that away?

Easy. Blame George W. Bush."

Ties to GOP Trumped Know-How Among Staff Sent to Rebuild Iraq -

Thanks to WaPo's Rajiv Chandrasekaran, now we know one reason why things have gone so horribly wrong in post-invasion Iraq: "The decision to send the loyal and the willing instead of the best and the brightest is now regarded by many people involved in the 3 1/2 -year effort to stabilize and rebuild Iraq as one of the Bush administration's gravest errors. Many of those selected because of their political fidelity spent their time trying to impose a conservative agenda on the postwar occupation, which sidetracked more important reconstruction efforts and squandered goodwill among the Iraqi people, according to many people who participated in the reconstruction effort.

The CPA had the power to enact laws, print currency, collect taxes, deploy police and spend Iraq's oil revenue. It had more than 1,500 employees in Baghdad at its height, working under America's viceroy in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, but never released a public roster of its entire staff.

Interviews with scores of former CPA personnel over the past two years depict an organization that was dominated -- and ultimately hobbled -- by administration ideologues."

Speaking of Spinach...

There's an old Krazy Kat strip that is rather timely...check it out.

By the way, I made myself a big spinach salad the night before this story broke. So far I'm still healthy...

Saturday, September 16, 2006

NYT: Bush Says G.O.P. Rebels Are Putting Nation at Risk

Bush seems to becoming President Queeg to me... I watched a bit of the news conference online, and he was so cranky: "President Bush made an impassioned defense on Friday of his proposed rules for the interrogation and prosecution of terrorism suspects, warning that the nation’s ability to defend itself would be undermined if rebellious Republicans in the Senate did not come around to his position.

Speaking at a late-morning news conference in the Rose Garden, Mr. Bush said he would have no choice but to end a C.I.A. program for the interrogation of high-level terrorism suspects if Congress passed an alternate set of rules supported by a group of Senate Republicans.

Those alternate rules were adopted Thursday by the Senate Armed Services Committee in defiance of Mr. Bush. Setting out what he suggested could be dire consequences if that bill became law, Mr. Bush said intelligence officers — he referred to them repeatedly as “professionals” — would no longer be willing and able to conduct interrogations out of concern that the vague standard for acceptable techniques could leave them vulnerable to legal action."

Friday, September 15, 2006

Air America not bankrupt (yet)

I heard a bit of Al Franken today on the radio, announcing that, ha ha, Air America was not going bankrupt, at least today. He played clips of Bill O'Reilly and Mike Gallagher talking about why this liberal radio experiment had failed. Only it hadn't. Yet.

In Atlanta, the local AA affiliate got bought out, and now it essentially is some quirky guy's iPod of the air. I enjoy listening occasionally, but a little goes a long way. They do still carry Franken at noon.

Anyway, AA has announced a new program lineup. They've dropped Springer (he'll be syndicated only) and moved some things around, and added a new show. Here's the announcement via email:

Beginning September 18, 2006, radio powerhouse “The Young Turks” will bring a new sound and energy to the progressive airwaves as Air America Radio Network’s new morning drive-time program.

Hosts Cenk Uygur, Ben Mankiewicz and Jill Pike will move their popular politically based talk show to broadcast on the nationally syndicated Air America Radio Network and XM Satellite Radio. Recognized as Sirius Satellite Radio’s first original programming and the first live video web TV show.

5am-6am The Mark Riley Show
6am-9am The Young Turks
9am-12noon The Sam Seder Show
12noon-3pm The Al Franken Show
3pm-6pm The Randi Rhodes Show
6pm-8pm The Rachel Maddow Show
8pm-9pm “Politically Direct” w/ David Bender
9pm-10pm “Ecotalk” w/ Betsy Rosenberg

Blue Like Jazz mirrors debate about direction of Christianity

My friend Michael in Germany sent this along and I found it interesting. I haven't read the book but another friend of mine has and highly recommended it... from Associated Baptist Press-September 14, 2006:

By Hannah Elliott

DALLAS (ABP) -- Reactions among evangelical Christians to Donald Miller's best-selling book Blue Like Jazz are about as diverse as reactions to the idea of postmodern Christianity itself.

Although the book debuted three years ago, its steadily growing popularity has made it a bona fide phenomenon in evangelical circles and spurred debates about the direction of Christianity as a whole.

Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality,
Miller's second book, uses the medium of a spiritual memoir to deconstruct and analyze much of what many evangelicals take for granted about the Christian lifestyle. A 30-something ex-Texan who grew up Southern Baptist, Miller uses the book to chart his own spiritual journey alongside Texas Baptists, Oregon hippies, atheists, folk singers, liberal college students and even penguins.

According to Scott Wenig, a Denver pastor, author and seminary professor, it's Miller's honesty about his sometimes-awkward growth toward spiritual maturity that attracts readers. The "experiential" approach Miller uses resonates with people who need exposure to faith not defined by analytical study or obscure points of theology, he said.

"Academics have the tendency to live out of their heads," Wenig told Associated Baptist Press. "The average person, we live out of our hearts. That doesn't mean we're not using our heads, [but when we] happen to experience someone writing [from the heart], what happens is they're touching something in people that most academics don't touch."

For instance, Miller recounts in the book how he often felt he couldn't interact with God -- or God's people -- in a free way. Then he read Anne Lamott's Traveling Mercies, and his perspective changed.

"When I started writing, I just wanted to end up with something like Anne Lamott's Traveling Mercies, because in Traveling Mercies it felt like she was free, free to be herself, to tell her story, to just vent, to rant, to speak as if she were talking to a friend," Miller wrote.

That honesty is what has endeared Blue Like Jazz to its fans -- an antidote to the syrupy facade many people associate with the Christian subculture.

Since the book's release in 2003, it has sold more than 550,000 copies worldwide. Christian groups have tried to tap into that appeal, using the book in outreach efforts like Campus Crusade kits for college students. Wenig often reads from it during his sermons at Aspen Grove Community Church, located in suburban Denver. And seminary students nationwide are devouring Miller's writing.

Some critics, however, wonder whether this literary marriage between a memoir and theology is ideal. Douglas Groothuis, a well-known Christian blogger and professor of philosophy at Denver Seminary, wrote in a Feb. 26 blog post that Miller's habit of addressing "titanic issues" with little more than "a smirk and a shrug and a pose" belies the need for solid intellectual analysis when it comes to practicing Christianity.

"He finds no need to be serious intellectually or to pursue subtleties," Groothuis wrote on, adding that Miller's desire to tell his personal story trumped all else in the book.

"Miller is cavalier and glib about the rational foundations for Christian faith," Groothuis told ABP. "This is ironic, given the tremendous renewal of Christian philosophy and apologetics in our day. True spirituality is a rational and biblical faith that tenaciously defends the objective, absolute, and universal truths of Christianity."

In fact, Groothuis said, it's important to analyze books like Blue Like Jazz not because of what they say, but because of what they indicate about the world. Unfortunately, he said, pop culture is dominated by image, style and glamour rather than character and truth.

"We must 'attune' our communication of Christian truth to diverse people but never compromise the truth and virtue of the faith by dumbing it down or making it flippant, as does Miller, to my mind," he said. "People can handle far more biblical meat than they are given credit for."

Nonetheless, conservative leaders have publicly deplored Miller’s social activism, occasional use of profanity and alternative style. Miller, who worked in campus ministry at liberal Reed College in Portland, posts links to groups like Greenpeace and the American Civil Liberties Union on the website

Other leaders simply can’t agree with his theology, especially the individualist approach iconoclastic authors like Miller and Lamott take to Christianity. For Groothuis, that doesn't add up to biblical theology.

"It is all too easy to lob criticisms of the church when you are not part of it, not part of making the church better," he said. "One must be a critic from within the church if one is to be a Christian."

But Wenig countered that such fears are what cause "a lot of academics to really struggle" with authors like Miller and Lamott -- because academics are paid to deal with the question of truth. Some Christians think that if people begin to "go off the road doctrinally," they'll become heretical and "go to hell," he said.

"Sometimes we're driven by fear because we're afraid that certain things will send people off the deep end," he said. Fortunately, though, Christianity has a "built-in self-correction mechanism" through the dual roles of the Bible and God's grace, Wenig added.

"Eventually, I think most groups in Christianity self-correct," he said. In fact, although Wenig himself disagrees with some parts of Blue Like Jazz, he said Miller is orthodox in much of his theology and would put him "clearly within the historic Christian camp."

Miller, for his part, said in a Relevant magazine interview that he has not flourished in churches with "consumer-oriented Christianity" and "self-help, formulaic kind of stuff -- the moralist and political angles on our faith tradition." Yet he said he loves his Portland, Ore., church, Imago Dei, and believes the worldwide church reflects God's presence.

That dichotomy -- between the church universal and local churches -- is how Miller differentiates between Christianity and spirituality. According to Wenig, Miller uses the word "Christianity" to mean the combination of Christian thinking with the practice of the church, culture and subculture over the centuries. When Miller talks about spirituality, Wenig said, he means the way of life that Jesus came to teach.

"See, the pressure to be a certain kind of person in the context of the church culture I was living in was intense," Miller said in Relevant. "When the pressure was taken off, and I was surrounded by people who would describe themselves as pagans, there was suddenly no pressure for me to perform or be like anything. They didn't care, and that allowed my faith to grow for real."

That attitude is reflected in Miller's book, which says institutionalized religion can inhibit true spirituality.

Wenig agrees, for the most part. "I wouldn't say it's primarily that, but sometimes [religion] … does get in the way of experiencing what we might call genuine spirituality," he said. "Sometimes structures or institutional aspects … get in the way of really connecting with Jesus. Sometimes even Christian religion is the enemy of the gospel."

Like him nor not, Miller's work continues to attract many evangelical readers -- even if they disagree with some of his doctrinal or political stances.

Michael Spencer, the campus minister at Oneida Baptist Institute in Oneida, Ky., wrote on his blog,, that Miller's honesty about "depravity, evangelical nonsense, Christian excuse-making and the truth of the words of Jesus" challenges him.

"I don't know what I was doing reading these books," he wrote. "There were moments in Blue Like Jazz that … I would feel like anyone who knew I was reading such a book would laugh at me, like finding out that your pastor reads middle-school romance novels. And then I would come across one of those 'wow' paragraphs. Whatever the price to get to those paragraphs, they are worth the trouble."

AJC Op-Ed: Failures in Vietnam resound

Excellent piece on the Iraq war by Lucas Carpenter, via "The first Gulf War bore little resemblance to Vietnam. It was a well-planned and well-executed conventional war that resulted in a quick resounding victory, albeit one that many say did not go far enough in destabilizing the Saddam Hussein regime.

It was heralded as our vindication from the 'defeatism' of the Vietnam War and proof that we had learned its painful lessons. Clearly the second Bush administration expected to achieve a similar military triumph, with our forces welcomed as liberators by Iraqis eager to reap the benefits of freedom and democracy. And their oil would pay for everything.

As we are all now acutely aware, none of this has transpired, and as we approach the endgame in Iraq, the similarities with Vietnam have become so glaring that one wonders if our government and military have learned anything at all from that similarly ill-conceived debacle.

The centerpiece of the administration's strategy is the arming and training of the Iraqi army and police so they can handle national security and our forces can be withdrawn. President Richard Nixon chose the same exit strategy in Vietnam, calling it Vietnamization.

We had already been training the South Vietnamese army for more than a decade, equipping it with enough airpower and armor to make it on paper one of the world's most powerful armed forces. Unfortunately, two years after the last Americans left, the South Vietnamese military collapsed, leading to those iconic images of the chaotic evacuation of our embassy.

What makes us think that the Iraqi army will fare any better against its own determined foes?"

NYT Ed: Stampeding Congress

Stampeding Congress - New York Times: "We’ll find out in November how well the White House’s be-very-afraid campaign has been working with voters. We already know how it’s working in Congress. Stampeded by the fear of looking weak on terrorism, lawmakers are rushing to pass a bill demanded by the president that would have minimal impact on antiterrorist operations but could cause profound damage to justice and the American way.

Yesterday, the president himself went to Capitol Hill to lobby for his bill, which would give Congressional approval to the same sort of ad hoc military commissions that Mr. Bush created on his own authority after 9/11 and that the Supreme Court has already ruled unconstitutional. It would permit the use of coerced evidence, secret hearings and other horrific violations of American justice.

Legal experts within the military have been deeply opposed to the president’s plan from the beginning, and have formed one of the most influential bulwarks against the administration’s attempt to rewrite the rules to make its recent behavior retroactively legal."

Thursday, September 14, 2006

BBC: US Iran report branded dishonest

BBC NEWS reports that the administration may be lying to bolster their case...against Iran: "The UN nuclear watchdog has protested to the US government over a report on Iran's nuclear programme, calling it 'erroneous' and 'misleading'.

In a leaked letter, the IAEA said a congressional report contained serious distortions of the agency's own findings on Iran's nuclear activity.

The IAEA also took 'strong exception' to claims made over the removal of a senior safeguards inspector."

If only...

Alter: An Alternative September 11 History - Newsweek Jonathan Alter - "Five years after 9/11, the world is surprisingly peaceful. President Bush's pragmatic and bipartisan leadership has kept the United States not just strong but unexpectedly popular across the globe. The president himself is poised to enjoy big GOP wins in the midterm elections, a validation of his subtle understanding of the challenges facing the country. A new survey of historians puts him in the first tier of American presidents."

Read it and weep.

NYP: Air America denies bankruptcy rumors

According to John Mainelli of the New York Post: "All-liberal, all-the-time Air America is denying intense rumors that the ratings-challenged radio network will declare bankruptcy this week and attempt to reorganize to stay on the air for the November elections.

A high-level source told The Post that Rob Glaser, the Real Networks founder who rescued the 2-year-old network from its first financial crisis, 'walked away last week' and took his moneybags with him.

Earlier this week, as first reported in The Post, Air America laid off six people and shuffled its on-air lineup - including deleting Jerry Springer and returning him to independent syndication.

Late yesterday, Air America spokeswoman Jaime Horn denied rumors of doom."

AJC: Strong wiretap controls needed

Strong wiretap controls needed -- editorial from "Whenever President Bush speaks of his program of eavesdropping without warrants, he insists that he and the national security apparatus only want to keep tabs on terrorists. That's just fine — as far as it goes. Virtually no Americans object to that.

The problem is this: If citizens hand over to government unlimited power to eavesdrop, it may not stop at listening in on terrorists. It may start listening in on perfectly innocent conversations between relatives in Detroit and Pakistan, on business conversations between rivals of Halliburton or on their political enemies. That's why a sensible safeguard — getting a warrant — is necessary. It ensures that the government doesn't overstep its bounds."

BBC: 'Drastic' shrinkage in Arctic ice

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | 'Drastic' shrinkage in Arctic ice: "A Nasa satellite has documented startling changes in Arctic sea ice cover between 2004 and 2005.

The extent of 'perennial' ice - thick ice which remains all year round - declined by 14%, losing an area the size of Pakistan or Turkey [or Texas].

The last few decades have seen summer ice shrink by about 0.7% per year."

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Conservatives say GOP deserves to lose in 2006

The Washington Monthly invited several noted conservatives to explain why they think the GOP should lose: "With Republicans controlling Congress and the White House, conservatives these days ought to be happy, but most aren’t. They see expanding government, runaway spending, Middle East entanglements, and government corruption, and they wonder why, exactly, the country should be grateful for Republican dominance. Some accuse Bush and the Republicans today of not being true conservatives. Others see a grab bag of stated policies and wonder how they cohere. Everyone thinks something’s got to change.

Now seven prominent conservatives dare to speak the unspeakable: They hope the Republicans lose in 2006. Well, let’s be diplomatic and say they’d prefer divided government—soon. (Perhaps that formulation will fool Dennis Hastert.) Of course, all of them wish for the long-term health of conservatism, and most are loyal to the GOP. What they also believe, however, is that even if a Speaker Pelosi looms in the wings, sometimes the best remedy for a party gone astray is to give it a session in the time-out chair."

Go check 'em out.

Evangelical Author Puts Progressive Spin On Traditional Faith

Evangelical Author Puts Progressive Spin On Traditional Faith-- from the Washington Post: "[Brian] McLaren has emerged as one of the most prominent voices in an increasingly active group of progressive evangelicals who are challenging the theological orthodoxy and political dominance of the religious right. He also is an intellectual guru of 'emerging church,' a grass-roots movement among young evangelicals exploring new models of living out their Christian faith.

Progressives, who range from 11 to 36 percent of all evangelicals, according to various polls, are still overshadowed by the Christian right among evangelicals. But the steady popularity of McLaren's books over the past eight years signals an expanding diversity of thought in this important political constituency.

McLaren, 50, offers an evangelical vision that emphasizes tolerance and social justice. He contends that people can follow Jesus's way without becoming Christian. In the latest of his eight books, 'The Secret Message of Jesus,' which has sold 55,000 copies since its April release, he argues that Christians should be more concerned about creating a just 'Kingdom of God' on earth than about getting into heaven.

Along with such other progressive evangelicals as Washington-based anti-poverty activist Jim Wallis and educator Tony Campolo, McLaren is openly critical of the conservative political agenda favored by many evangelicals.

'When we present Jesus as a pro-war, anti-poor, anti-homosexual, anti-environment, pro-nuclear weapons authority figure draped in an American flag, I think we are making a travesty of the portrait of Jesus we find in the gospels,' McLaren said in a recent interview."

TP: Air America to declare bankruptcy...sigh...

Think Progress - EXCLUSIVE: Air America To Declare Bankruptcy, But Progressive Radio Remains Strong: "Air America Radio will announce a major restructuring on Friday, which is expected to include a bankruptcy filing, three independent sources have told ThinkProgress.

Air America could remain on the air under the deal, but significant personnel changes are already in the works. Sources say five Air America employees were laid off yesterday and were told there would be no severance without capital infusion or bankruptcy. Also, Air America has ended its relationship with host Jerry Springer.

The right wing is sure to seize on Air America’s financial woes as a sign that progressive talk radio is unpopular. In fact, Air America succeeded at creating something that didn’t exist: the progressive talk radio format. That format is now established and strong and will continue with or without Air America. Indeed, many of the country’s most successful and widely-syndicated progressive talk hosts — Ed Schultz and Stephanie Miller, for instance — aren’t even associated with Air America."

Ruth Marcus: ABC's 'Path' Not Taken

Ruth Marcus of the WaPo takes on ABC's miniseries: "The linkage to the commission's report is made clear just after the opening credits when the mournful music falls silent and a black screen with white lettering appears: 'The 9/11 Commission is an independent, bipartisan commission created by Congress in late 2002.' And, next, a quote from the report: 'Our aim has not been to assign individual blame. Our aim has been to provide the fullest possible account of the events surrounding 9/11 and to identify lessons learned.'

The fullest possible account? Hardly, and certainly not the fairest or most accurate."

As John of AmericaBlog notes, she caught some things they hadn't even caught.

Episcopal Bishops Can't Agree on Way Forward

Looks like the hard-liners wouldn't budge. They are hungry for power. And they don't like women or gays. From Episcopal News Service:

The following statement was issued this morning on the Anglican Communion News Service:

A group of bishops met in New York on 11-13 September at the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury and in consultation with the Presiding Bishop to review the current landscape of the church in view of conflicts within the Episcopal Church. The Archbishop of Canterbury had received a request from seven dioceses for alternative primatial pastoral care and asked that American bishops address the question. The co-conveners of the meeting were Bishops Peter James Lee of Virginia and John Lipscomb of Southwest Florida. Other participating bishops were Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold, Presiding Bishop-elect Katharine Jefferts Schori and Bishops Jack Iker of Fort Worth, Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh, James Stanton of Dallas, Edward
Salmon of South Carolina, Mark Sisk of New York, Dorsey Henderson of Upper South Carolina, and Robert O'Neill of Colorado. Also participating was Canon Kenneth Kearon, the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion.

We had honest and frank conversations that confronted the depth of the conflicts that we face. We recognized the need to provide sufficient space, but were unable to come to common agreement on the way forward. We could not come to consensus on a common plan to move forward to meet the needs of the dioceses that issued the appeal for Alternate Primatial Oversight. The level of openness and charity in this conference allow us to pledge to hold one another in prayer and to work together until we have reached the solution God holds out for us.

TPM: Sen. Allen has "Ethnic Rally"

Talking Points Memo shows: "a screen shot from Allen's website, where he's providing a photo gallery of his special 'ethnic rally' where he invited potential non-white supporters for a quick meet-n-greet. I guess 'ethnic rally' was better than 'brown people outreach' and that probably would have been better than 'macaca day'."

BBC: Soros putting his money to work for Africa

BBC NEWS reports that progressive billionaire George Soros is donating $50m to help Africa: "US billionaire George Soros is to give $50m to help tackle poverty and Aids in Africa.

Mr Soros pledged to hand the cash to the United Nations' (UN) Millennium Villages Project over five years.

The $100m-scheme involves targeted investment in health, education and farming to help lift African villages out of poverty."

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Lauer takes on Bush re: torture

I have to applaud Today's Matt Lauer--he doesn't give in to Bush's fingerpointing denials.

Chilling scenes of 9/11

Heretofore unreleased home video of the World Trade Center tragedy, videotaped from a nearby apartment. It's thoroughly chilling. All I know is that the person responsible for this is still at large.

C&L: Olbermann on Bush and 9/11

Crooks and Liars has the video of Keith Olbermann’s Special Comment on Bush: Who has left this hole in the ground? We have not forgotten, Mr. President. You have. May this country forgive you. Go watch.

Revelations of no WMDs in Iraq show deception, incompetence at work |

Read the lead editorial in today's Atlanta Journal-COnstitution: "...Questions about the honesty, wisdom, judgment and competence of our current leadership are far from meaningless. We are not debating the relative merits of Thomas Jefferson vs. John Adams; we are attempting to decide whether our current leaders can be trusted to handle the challenges we face.

It matters, for instance, that Vice President Dick Cheney now says that the Bush administration would have invaded Iraq even if it had known that Saddam had no WMD and no ties to al-Qaida. Intrigued by the admission on 'Meet the Press' Sunday, host Tim Russert pressed the point with Cheney:

'So if the CIA said to you [in 2003] 'Saddam does not have weapons of mass destruction, his chemical and biological have been degraded, he has no nuclear program under way,' you'd still have invaded Iraq?'

Yes, Cheney said.

In other words, Iraqi WMD weren't the reason we went to war, they were merely the excuse that Cheney and his colleagues needed to scare up public support. That's a relevant piece of information as Americans try to decide how much faith they can put in this administration."

President Bush’s Reality - New York Times

President Bush’s Reality - New York Times editorial: "Mr. Bush has been marking the fifth anniversary of Sept. 11 with a series of speeches about terrorism that culminated with his televised address last night. He has described a world where Iraq is a young but hopeful democracy with a “unity government” that represents its diverse population. Al Qaeda-trained terrorists who are terrified by “the sight of an old man pulling the election lever” are trying to stop the march of progress. The United States and its friends are holding firm in a battle that will decide whether freedom or terror will rule the 21st century.

If that were actual reality, the president’s call to “put aside our differences and work together to meet the test that history has given us” would be inspiring, instead of frustrating and depressing.

Iraq had nothing to do with the war on terror until the Bush administration decided to invade it. The president now admits that Saddam Hussein was not responsible for 9/11 (although he claimed last night that the invasion was necessary because Iraq posed a “risk”). But he has failed to offer the country a new, realistic reason for being there."

NYT on Path to 9/11 Miniseries

New York Times reviews the background of the miniseries, and it seems that a worthwhile project may have gotten hijacked by right wing writer and director: "The first half of ABC’s dramatic mini-series “The Path to 9/11,” which drew fierce advance partisan reaction last week over its portrayal of Clinton administration officials, drew an estimated 13 million viewers Sunday night, several million more than a rebroadcast of a CBS documentary about Sept. 11 but far fewer than NBC’s opening-week National Football League game.

In response to complaints from former members of the Clinton Administration and their supporters, ABC edited several scenes in the film that critics said suggested Clinton officials had been negligent in their efforts to stop Osama bin Laden in the years leading up to the attacks, including historically inaccurate scenes that they said had been simply made up.

But other disputed scenes remained, and several notable mistakes or inventions remained."

And here's the NYT editorial on the miniseries in today's paper.

Monday, September 11, 2006

USATODAY: Americans' image of God varies - Americans' image of God varies: "The USA calls itself one nation under God, but Americans don't all have the same image of the Almighty in mind.

A new survey of religion in the USA finds four very different images of God — from a wrathful deity thundering at sinful humanity to a distant power uninvolved in mankind's affairs.

Forget denominational brands or doctrines or even once-salient terms like 'Religious Right.' Even the oft-used 'Evangelical' appears to be losing ground.

Believers just don't see themselves the way the media and politicians — or even their pastors — do, according to the national survey of 1,721 Americans, by far the most comprehensive national religion survey to date."

Evanier on 9/11 memories

news from me: "I watched a few of them last night and found myself getting alternately sad and angry. The sad part needs no explanation but perhaps the angry part does. The more I am reminded of the pain of that day, the more I resent the folks who've tried to manipulate its memory. No event in my lifetime (I'm 54) brought Americans together the way our shared suffering brought us together that day. It is appalling not only that this unity has been lost but that the emotions of 9/11 have been reconfigured to demonize one another. The worst kind of partisans have claimed 9/11 as a club to use against the other side. The same thing has happened with the Iraq War: If you don't see things my way and vote for my side, you must be objectively pro-terrorist, plus you hate America and pray for our troops to be killed.

That dung has always bothered me, but it never quite bothered me as much as it did last night when I was watching footage of the burning towers, still shots of innocent human beings plunging to their deaths and the pained agony of onlookers and family members. I kept thinking, 'How did we get from this to where we are now?'"

Italian still life

I received this photo by email this morning, from a great guy who lives in Germany and happens to be a fan of the radio program I produce and host. He'd bought my book and had taken it on his family vacation to Italy last week, and sent this along as proof. Made my morning!

Salon interviews Olbermann

The Olbermann factor | Salon News: "The MSNBC maverick gives Salon the countdown on his anti-Bush orations, battling with Bill O'Reilly, and the nauseating truth about cable news." Check it out.

Andrew Sullivan: Rove has 9/11 tricks up his sleeve

Andrew Sullivan: The Rove Campaign: "Next week, I'm informed via troubled White House sources, will see the full unveiling of Karl Rove's fall election strategy. He's intending to line up 9/11 families to accuse McCain, Warner and Graham of delaying justice for the perpetrators of that atrocity, because they want to uphold the ancient judicial traditions of the U.S. military and abide by the Constitution. He will use the families as an argument for legalizing torture, setting up kangaroo courts for military prisoners, and giving war crime impunity for his own aides and cronies. This is his 'Hail Mary' move for November; it's brutally exploitative of 9/11; it's pure partisanship; and it's designed to enable an untrammeled executive. Decent Republicans, Independents and Democrats must do all they can to expose and resist this latest descent into political thuggery. If you need proof that this administration's first priority is not a humane and effective counter-terror strategy, but a brutal, exploitative path to retaining power at any price, you just got it."

WaPo: Administration would do "exactly" same thing in Iraq

Cheney admits a few problems to Russert - from "Vice President Dick Cheney on Sunday unapologetically defended the 2003 invasion of Iraq, saying the administration would have done 'exactly the same thing' even if it knew before the war what he acknowledged knowing now --- that Iraq did not have stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.

Yet Cheney, appearing on NBC's 'Meet the Press,' also gave a bit of ground, as he was pressed repeatedly by interviewer Tim Russert about past statements that turned out to be wrong or damaging to his credibility.

The vice president acknowledged he had been overly optimistic in predicting a quick demise to the Iraqi insurgency that continues to bedevil U.S. forces. In May 2005, Cheney proclaimed the insurgency was in its 'last throes,' but since then more than 1,000 additional U.S. troops have died and sectarian violence has intensified.

'I think there's no question ... that the insurgency's gone on longer and been more difficult that I had anticipated,' Cheney said. But he added that 2005 will be seen as a 'turning point' in Iraq's history because of elections that have led to a democratic government."