Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Media Matters: ABC memo reveals Air America advertiser blacklist

Media Matters has the scoop.... no wonder Air America is bankrupt: "An internal ABC Radio Networks memo obtained by Media Matters for America, originally from a listener to The Peter B. Collins Show, indicates that nearly 100 ABC advertisers insist that their commercials be blacked out on Air America Radio affiliates. According to the memo, the adverstisers insist that 'NONE of their commercials air during AIR AMERICA programming.' Among the advertisers listed are Bank of America, Exxon Mobil, Federal Express, General Electric, McDonald's, Microsoft, Wal-Mart, and the U.S. Navy."

Political Ad we'd like to see

A friend sent me this. Looks like it was scanned from Mad magazine...

Monday, October 30, 2006

U.S. Is Said to Fail in Tracking Arms for Iraqis - New York Times

U.S. Is Said to Fail in Tracking Arms for Iraqis - New York Times: "The American military has not properly tracked hundreds of thousands of weapons intended for Iraqi security forces and has failed to provide spare parts, maintenance personnel or even repair manuals for most of the weapons given to the Iraqis, a federal report released Sunday has concluded."

MiamiHerald: Glitches cited in early voting

MiamiHerald.com has a scary story about glitches in voting machines used in early voting...it begins: "After a week of early voting, a handful of glitches with electronic voting machines have drawn the ire of voters, reassurances from elections supervisors -- and a caution against the careless casting of ballots.

Several South Florida voters say the choices they touched on the electronic screens were not the ones that appeared on the review screen -- the final voting step.

Election officials say they aren't aware of any serious voting issues. But in Broward County, for example, they don't know how widespread the machine problems are because there's no process for poll workers to quickly report minor issues and no central database of machine problems."

C&L: SNL Video of possible final week GOP ads

Crooks and Liars: "On Saturday Night Live this week they took a humorous look at what we can expect from the RNC on the final week of campaign ads."

Watch the video.

Remember to Vote, Hope It Counts - New York Times

Remember to Vote, Hope It Counts - New York Times: "There is a silent disenfranchisement afoot — one that could affect hundreds of thousands of voters. That’s bad for democracy. In the 2004 presidential election, some states were decided by less than 1 percent of the vote. This year, dozens of Congressional races could be close enough that vote suppression would affect them.

What follow are examples of ways the vote could be suppressed next week around the country. Problems listed in one state may also apply to several others. Taken together, they show just how urgent it is that the country move toward a system of universal voter registration, in which the government takes responsibility to ensure that all citizens are on the rolls, with real protections."

Check out the multimedia.

Thought for the day: The means to real peace

The means to real peace. No government admits anymore that it keeps an army to satisfy occasionally the desire for conquest. Rather the army is supposed to serve for defense, and one invokes the morality that approves of self-defense. But this implies one's own morality and the neighbor's immorality; for the neighbor must be thought of as eager to attack and conquer if our state must think of means of self-defense. Moreover, the reasons we give for requiring an army imply that our neighbor, who denies the desire for conquest just as much as does our own state, and who, for his part, also keeps an army only for reasons of self-defense, is a hypocrite and a cunning criminal who would like nothing better than to overpower a harmless and awkward victim without any fight. Thus all states are now ranged against each other; they presuppose their neighbor's bad disposition and their own good disposition. This presupposition, however, is inhumane, as bad as war and worse. At bottom, indeed, it is itself the challenge and the cause of wars, because, as I have said, it attributes immorality to the neighbor and provokes a hostile disposition and act. We must abjure the doctrine of the army as a means of self-defense just as completely as the desire for conquest.

And perhaps the great day will come when a people, distinguished by wars and victories and by the highest development of a military order and intelligence, and accustomed to make the heaviest sacrifices for these things, will exclaim of its own free will, "We break the sword," and will smash its entire military establishment down to its lowest foundations. Rendering oneself unarmed when one has been the best armed, out of a height of feeling- that is the means to real peace, which must always rest on a peace of mind; whereas the so-called armed peace, as it now exists in all countries, is the absence of peace of mind. One trusts neither oneself nor one's neighbor and, half from hatred, half from fear, does not lay down arms. Rather perish than hate and fear, and twice rather perish than make oneself hated and feared- this must someday become the highest maxim for every single commonwealth too. Our liberal representatives, as is well known, lack the time for reflecting on the nature of man: else they would know that they work in vain when they work for a "gradual decrease of the military burden." Rather, only when this kind of need has become greatest will the kind of god be nearest who alone can help here. The tree of war-glory can only be destroyed all at once, by a stroke of lightning: but lightning, as indeed you know, comes from a cloud - and from up high.

- Nietzsche, The Wanderer and His Shadow, aphorism 284
[hat/tip to Lyle Tucker]

Sunday, October 29, 2006

AMERICAblog: Blogger's meltdown

AMERICAblog reports on the phenomenon that's been buggin' me all weekend: "Blogger is down AGAIN. We, like every other blog on Blogger, are only able to post intermittently - literally we're publishing each post a good 50 to 100 times before it shows up.... So basically, Blogger is melting down the week before the elections and Blogger and Google are making excuses. Nice."

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Furor Over Cheney Remark on Tactics for Terror Suspects - New York Times

Furor Over Cheney Remark on Tactics for Terror Suspects - New York Times: "The White House found itself fending off questions on Friday about what Vice President Dick Cheney meant when he agreed with a talk-radio host that there was nothing wrong with dunking a terrorism suspect in water if it saved lives.

Tony Snow, the White House spokesman, said Mr. Cheney was not endorsing water-boarding, a coercive interrogation technique that simulates drowning and that many have said qualifies as torture. Mr. Snow said Mr. Cheney was not, in fact, referring to any technique, whether it was torture or not, because administration officials do not discuss interrogation methods.

President Bush was also confronted by reporters about Mr. Cheney’s comments as he made a joint appearance with Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, the secretary general of NATO. “This country does not torture; we’re not going to torture,” Mr. Bush said, without referring directly to Mr. Cheney or his comments.

The questioning was set off when Mr. Cheney was interviewed Tuesday by Scott Hennen, a conservative radio talk show host in Fargo, N.D. “Would you agree that a dunk in water is a no-brainer if it can save lives?” Mr. Hennen asked.

“Well, it’s a no-brainer for me,” Mr. Cheney replied. “But for a while there I was criticized as being the vice president for torture. We don’t torture. That’s not what we’re involved in.”"

NYT: Former WH official sentenced in Abramoff scandal

Man Linked to Abramoff Is Sentenced to 18 Months - New York Times: "A former White House budget official who became entangled in the criminal investigation of the lobbyist Jack Abramoff was sentenced on Friday to 18 months in prison for lying about his relationship to Mr. Abramoff.

The former official, David H. Safavian, wept as he pleaded for leniency from Judge Paul L. Friedman in Federal District Court here. The judge used the sentencing hearing to speak out against what he said was a growing culture of corruption in Washington encouraged by high-priced lobbyists.

“He came to work in an environment that has become, frankly, more and more corrupt,” Judge Friedman said in announcing Mr. Safavian’s sentence, which was half of the three-year prison term sought by the Justice Department.

“It’s become corrupted by money,” Judge Friedman added. “You’ve literally got lobbyists sitting in Congressional offices writing legislation. That’s what’s going on.”

Mr. Safavian’s crimes, he said, were a “classic case of abuse of the public’s trust.”

Mr. Safavian was convicted in June of lying to federal investigators about Mr. Abramoff and the circumstances of his decision to join the lobbyist on a golfing trip to Scotland by private jet in 2002."

Friday, October 27, 2006

NYPost: Better watch Letterman tonight...

: "Any lingering doubts that David Letterman detests Bill O'Reilly will be laid to rest tonight, when the gap-toothed funnyman has the conservative Fox News powerhouse on his CBS 'Late Show' and machine-guns him with insults.

In a tape previewed by Page Six, things go downhill fast as O'Reilly sits down and jokingly presents the liberal-leaning host with a plastic sword to do battle and holds up a plastic shield to defend himself.

An irritated Letterman cracks, 'Oh, that's nice, that's cute, you come out with toys . . . Am I right about one thing: You guys over there at Fox and guys like Rush Limbaugh, you guys know it's all just a goof, right? You're just horsing around. You're doing it 'cause you know it'll be entertaining?' Letterman adds he's never seen O'Reilly's show because, 'I dial up Fox and it's always 'The Simpsons.' '

O'Reilly tries to lighten the mood by telling the audience he and Letterman are 'on the same bowling league' and asks whether he'd appear on 'Dancing With the Stars.'

'Bonehead!' snaps Letterman, who then starts shaking his fist and waving his arms at O'Reilly as the subject turns to the war in Iraq. 'Let me ask you a question - was there more heinous, more dangerous violence taking place [before America invaded] Iraq, or is there more heinous, dangerous violence taking place now in Iraq?'

'Oh, stop it,' O'Reilly scolds the host. 'Saddam Hussein slaughtered 300,000 to 400,000 people, all right, so knock it off . . . It isn't so black and white, Dave - it isn't, 'We're a bad country. Bush is an evil liar.' That's not true.'

'I didn't say he was an evil liar,' Letterman shoots back. 'You're putting words in my mouth, just the way you put artificial facts in your head!'"

Luckovich today

C&L: Bill Maher: Impeach Bush

Crooks and Liars - Bill Maher: Impeach Bush: "Bill Maher appeared on Scarborough last night for the second part of his interview. This time Maher listed the reasons why Bush should be impeached."

C&L has the video.

C&L: Exactly Who Are We Fighting In Iraq?

Crooks and Liars - Exactly Who Are We Fighting In Iraq?: "The US death toll in Iraq is horrendous. CNN's Michael Ware is one of the best reporters embedded in Iraq who always tells it like it is. Last night, he broke down exactly who we're fighting, where their allegiances lie, why they fight and whether or not they're willing to negotiate with US forces."

Check out the video.

C&L: Michael J Fox makes a fool out of Limbaugh

Crooks and Liars - Michael J Fox makes a fool out of Limbaugh: "Will Rush apologize to MJ Fox after he told Katie Couric that he was on his medication while filming an ad promoting embryonic stem cell research? Watching Fox's condition up close and personal is so sad to see and for Rush to mock him for a political agenda is tragic. Limbaugh will never apologize or honestly regret what he's done because it's part of a long term strategy to once again attack the messenger. Unfortunately for the country– conservatives can say anything they want and never pay a price for their outlandish remarks so Limbaugh will escape unscathed."

Check out the video of the interview with Katie Couric.

AMERICAblog: Viguerie blasts GOP

AMERICAblog's John Aravosis examines the latest email from the king of conservative direct mailers: "Richard Viguerie is commonly considered the father of direct mail marketing. He is one of 'the' gurus of the entire conservative movement, going back decades.

Note that in this email he just sent to his list he not only blasts the Republicans, in shockingly harsh language, as offering voters nothing, he also says that it would probably be better if the Dems wont back one house of Congress.

And one final, very telling point. Viguerie provides a list of issues the GOP must focus on in order to win back ec economic and social conservatives - yet he doesn't mention one single social issue of concern to those who are commonly considered 'social conservatives,' the religious right. Abortion and gays are missing totally from his list. So are school prayer, the Ten Commandments, flag burning and pretty much every other issue the religious right cares and screams about.

We are witnessing the beginnings of a Republican civil war that is very much at odds with the current GOP leadership and the religious right."

E&P's Mitchell: Bush Among Friends

Bush Among Friends, Greg Mitchell at Editor & Publisher: "If you've ever fantasized about what it would be like to eavesdrop on our president chatting with some of his strongest fans in the media, then your decidedly odd dream has come true. President Bush met with eight leading conservative columnists on Wednesday afternoon, and a transcript has just been released.

It's a fascinating fly-on-the-wall replay, nearly all on-the-record -- as the president explains, 'I'm a skeptical off-the-record' guy. Surprisingly, there's less joking around than at most press conferences, although he does call Larry Kudlow of CNBC 'Kuds' and claims he is a 'blood and guts' guy. Clearly among friends (Krauthammer, Henninger, Blankley, and the rest), Bush states, 'al-Qaeda is lethal as hell,' and then instructs, 'scratch the 'hell' -- it's lethal.' Later he urges, 'don't be writing -- don't write me down as hopelessly naive and trying to always put lipstick on the pig.'"

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

On the road till Thursday night

I doubt I'll have much online time the next few days as I'll be in St. Louis. No, not for the World Series, but for a conference. Please check back later in the week... or visit the archives! Thanks.

Trying to Contain the Iraq Disaster - New York Times

Trying to Contain the Iraq Disaster - New York Times: "No matter what President Bush says, the question is not whether America can win in Iraq. The only question is whether the United States can extricate itself without leaving behind an unending civil war that will spread more chaos and suffering throughout the Middle East, while spawning terrorism across the globe.

The prospect of what happens after an American pullout haunts the debate on Iraq. The administration, for all its hints about new strategies and timetables, is obviously hoping to slog along for two more years and dump the problem on Mr. Bush’s successor. This fall’s election debates have educated very few voters because neither side is prepared to be honest about the terrible consequences of military withdrawal and the very long odds against success if American troops remain.

This page opposed a needlessly hurried and unilateral invasion, even before it became apparent that the Bush administration was unprepared to do the job properly. But after it happened, we believed that America should stay and try to clean up the mess it had made — as long as there was any conceivable road to success.

That road is vanishing. Today we want to describe a strategy for containing the disaster as much as humanly possible."

WaPo: White House cuts and runs from "stay the course" phrase

'Stay the course' retired as White House mantra | ajc.com: "President Bush and his aides are annoyed that people keep misinterpreting his Iraq policy as 'stay the course.'

'That is not a stay-the-course policy,' White House press secretary Tony Snow declared Monday.

Where would anyone have gotten that idea? Maybe from Bush.

'We will stay the course. We will help this young Iraqi democracy succeed,' he said in Salt Lake City in August.

'We will win in Iraq so long as we stay the course,' he said in Milwaukee in July.

'I saw people wondering whether the United States would have the nerve to stay the course and help them succeed,' he said after returning from Baghdad in June.

But now the White House is cutting and running from 'stay the course.' A phrase meant to connote steely resolve instead has become a symbol for being out of touch in the face of a war that seems to grow worse by the week, Republican strategists say.

Instead, they have begun emphasizing how adaptable the president's Iraq policy actually is. Bush remains steadfast about remaining in Iraq, they say, but constantly shifts tactics and methods in response to an adjusting enemy."

AJC: Coke donates land for civil rights museum in Atlanta

Coca Cola does the right thing: "Following a tradition of landmark gestures to the city, Coca-Cola has agreed to grant a piece of land next to the Georgia Aquarium for an attraction honoring Atlanta as the cradle of the civil rights movement.

Coca-Cola Chief Executive Neville Isdell made the surprise announcement at a lunch of downtown business leaders Monday. He and Mayor Shirley Franklin struck a deal for the 2.5-acre property last week."

Monday, October 23, 2006

CNN: Active duty service members ask Congress to stop the war

CNN.com - CNN Political Ticker: "Sixty five active duty service members are officially asking Congress to end the war in Iraq -- the first time active troops have done so since U.S. invasion began in 2003.

Three of the service members will hold a press conference Wednesday explaining their decision to send 'Appeals for Redress' under the Military Whistleblower Protection Act to their members of Congress. Under the act, National Guard and Reservists can send communications about any subject to their member of Congress without punishment."

Guardian: The Real Story in Iraq - Video

Guardian Unlimited | Video | Sean Smith in Iraq: "Sean Smith, the Guardian's award-winning war photographer, spent nearly six weeks with the 101st Division of the US army in Iraq. Watch his haunting observational film that explodes the myth around the claims that the Iraqis are preparing to take control of their own country."

John W. Dean on the Kuo Christian Controversy

FindLaw's Writ -- Dean: David Kuo's Book "Tempting Faith" The Author's Agenda, the Authoritarian Behavior He Reports, And the White House's Response: "David Kuo, the former deputy-director of the Bush White House's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, recently published a book, Tempting Faith. The book's most controversial claim is that members of the Bush administration have been privately trashing some of the very Religious Right leaders who helped put them in power.

For example, Kuo told '60 Minutes' that he had heard people in the White House political affairs office, Karl Rove's operation, refer to Pat Robertson as 'insane,' call Jerry Falwell 'ridiculous,' and say that James Dobson 'had to be controlled.'

In this column, I'll consider claims that Kuo must have a hidden political agenda, analyze the implication of the badmouthing of the religious right by Rove's team, and consider the Administration's responses to Kuo."

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Daily Kos: "I'm A Democrat"

Daily Kos: "I'm A Democrat" take-offs of "I'm a Mac" spots: "Some YouTube entertainment for your Sunday morning (no, these aren't real TV campaign ads, they aren't airing anywhere, they're just YouTube fun)."

They're all here, check 'em out.

BBC: US 'arrogant and stupid' in Iraq

BBC NEWS: US 'arrogant and stupid' in Iraq: "A senior US state department official has said that the US has shown 'arrogance and stupidity' in Iraq.

Alberto Fernandez made the remarks during an interview with Arabic television station al-Jazeera.

The state department says Mr Fernandez was quoted incorrectly - but BBC Arabic language experts say Mr Fernandez did indeed use the words.

It comes after President George W Bush discussed changing tactics with top US commanders to try to combat the unrest."

AJC: Was Jesus rich?

Was Jesus rich? John Blake in the AJC presents both sides of this theological/historical debate: "Christians gather around the world each Christmas to sing about 'poor baby Jesus' asleep in the manger with no crib for his bed.

But the Rev. Creflo Dollar looks inside that manger, and he doesn't see a poor baby at all.

He sees a baby born into wealth because the kings visiting him gave him gold, frankincense and myrrh. He sees a messiah with so much money that he needed an accountant to track it. He sees a savior who wore clothes so expensive that the Roman soldiers who crucified him gambled for them.

Dollar sees a rich Jesus.

'He was rich, he was whole, and I use those words interchangeably,' says Dollar, senior pastor of World Changers Church International, a 23,000-member College Park church, which broadcasts its services on six continents.

Dollar is part of a growing number of preachers who say that the traditional image of Jesus as a poor, itinerant preacher who 'had no place to lay his head' is wrong.

'Did Jesus have money? Well, the Bible was clear. Kings brought him gold,' Dollar says. 'Did Jesus have money? It's clear. He had a treasurer to keep up with it.'

Yet many academic scholars say pastors like Dollar are inventing a rich Jesus for selfish reasons."

Tucker: Bush exploited Americans' urge for safety | ajc.com

Bush exploited Americans' urge for safety | ajc.com: "Bush had a major advantage in persuading Americans to support his Iraqi misadventure: Voters wanted to believe that ousting Saddam would take care of terrorists. The president offered the certainty that the nation craved. It's easier to believe in a highly unlikely proposition if you desperately want it to be true.

But 3 1/2 years after the invasion, with bloodshed escalating, the spell has worn off. A CNN poll this month showed 64 percent of respondents opposed to the war. And while a handful of Republican congressional candidates still try to justify the decision to topple Saddam, most GOP candidates try to avoid the subject.

Meanwhile, we are less secure than we were five years ago. Terrorists are using our invasion of Iraq as a recruiting tool. While Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction, North Korea apparently now has nukes. Iran is on its way to nuclear capabilities. And we have few soldiers left to handle a conflict anywhere else. Even if Bush wanted to invade Iran, he has no brigades to send. They're bogged down in Iraq. Moreover, our international alliances are frayed —- where they're not ripped to shreds.

All in all, we've paid a high price for our refusal to see ourselves as we really are, not the way we want to be seen. We wanted to be 'the shining city on the hill,' set apart from the rest of the world, immune to its problems, better, safer, smarter than anybody else.

The United States is a strong and capable nation, but we are vulnerable to bird flu from Singapore, suitcase nukes from the old Soviet empire and suicide bombers from Saudi Arabia. Our best strategy for protecting ourselves will always be a nuanced and multifaceted approach using diplomacy, strategic alliances, intelligence-gathering, law enforcement and, as a last resort, military force.

That nuanced approach doesn't appeal to the bully boys who want to send other people's children out to blow up a country. But we should have learned by now to stop listening to them."

Scandal exposes gay-straight divide | ajc.com

Scandal exposes gay-straight divide | ajc.com: "The scandal over ex-Rep. Mark Foley's explicit electronic messages to teenage male former pages has highlighted a dividing line within the Republican Party between straight and gay conservatives.

The Foley scandal has exposed a 'don't ask, don't tell' attitude with which many Republican lawmakers regard gay staffers on Capitol Hill, a more tolerant approach than GOP politicians generally present to supporters at election time.

As a result, some GOP conservatives are seizing the opportunity to try to push gays and lesbians further away from the party, even as prominent gay bloggers are vowing to out more closeted gay Republicans, all of which is causing openly gay Republicans on Capitol Hill to feel under siege."

AJC: A tale of remorse and reconciliation in Americus

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has an amazing story of a man who stood up for integration 40 years ago... and the reconciliation only now beginning to take place with his high school classmates: "One morning last May, Greg Wittkamper drove to the post office near his home in the West Virginia mountains and found a surprise in the mail: an invitation to his high school class reunion in Georgia. It had been four decades since he graduated from Americus High, and he had never heard from anyone in the Class of '65. He figured they were too embarrassed.

Wittkamper's senior year was the worst of his life. On the first day of classes, he rode to campus with four black students to show his support as they desegregated the school. A mob pelted the car with rocks and bricks. It wasn't the first time the white boy inside had felt like an outcast.

As he sat in front of the post office, Wittkamper reread the invitation and smiled. Finally, he thought. He began to leaf through the rest of his mail and noticed a familiar name on one envelope: David Morgan. He opened the letter.

'I expect you will be quite surprised to hear from me,' it began. 'If you remember me at all, it will likely be for unpleasant reasons.'

Wittkamper remembered. While Morgan hadn't called him names or tried to jump him, he was one of many classmates who jeered as others did. They spit on him, dumped food on him, tore up his books, pushed him down the stairs, peed in his locker. A couple of guys even hit him in the face.

'Throughout the last 40 years,' the letter continued, 'I have occasionally thought of you and those dark days that you endured at our hands. As I matured, I became more and more ashamed, and wished that I had taken a different stand back then.'

Wittkamper stared at the letter. He had gone to the post office expecting bills and payments from people who were buying land from him. Instead, he found the promise of reconciliation."

It's worth the read.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Powerful TV spot

Bush Faces a Battery of Ugly Choices on War - New York Times

Bush Faces a Battery of Ugly Choices on War - New York Times: "The acknowledgment by the United States Army spokesman in Iraq that the latest plan to secure Baghdad has faltered leaves President Bush with some of the ugliest choices he has yet faced in the war.

He can once again order a rearrangement of American forces inside the country, as he did in August, when American commanders declared that newly trained Iraqi forces would “clear and hold” neighborhoods with backup support from redeployed American forces. That strategy collapsed within a month, frequently forcing the Americans to take the lead, making them prime targets.

There is no assurance, though, that another redeployment of those forces will reduce the casualty rate, which has been unusually high in recent weeks, senior military and administration officials say. The toll comes just before midterm elections, in which even many of his own party have given up arguing that progress is being made or that the killing will soon slow.

Or Mr. Bush can reassess the strategy itself, perhaps listening to those advisers — including some members of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, the advisory commission charged with coming up with new strategies for Iraq — who say that he needs to redefine the “victory” that he again on Thursday declared was his goal."

Republican Woes Lead to Feuding by Conservatives - New York Times

Republican Woes Lead to Feuding by Conservatives - New York Times: "Tax-cutters are calling evangelicals bullies. Christian conservatives say Republicans in Congress have let them down. Hawks say President Bush is bungling the war in Iraq. And many conservatives blame Representative Mark Foley’s sexual messages to teenage pages.

With polls showing Republican control of Congress in jeopardy, conservative leaders are pointing fingers at one other in an increasingly testy circle of blame for potential Republican losses this fall."

Thursday, October 19, 2006

C&L: Olbermann: “Your words are lies, Sir.”

Crooks and Liars - Countdown Special Comment: Death of Habeas Corpus: “Your words are lies, Sir.”: John Amato summarizes (and has the video and transcript of) Keith's latest comment on the Military Commissions Act signing and the loss of Habeas Corpus: "Keith Olbermann has been calling it like it is. His 'Special Comments' are indeed special because no other talking head outside of Cafferty is willing to step up to the plate and say what needs to be said on 24/7. 'Your words are lies, Sir.' They are lies, that imperil us all.' Sounds about right to me."

Tables Turned for the G.O.P. Over Iraq Issue - New York Times

Tables Turned for the G.O.P. Over Iraq Issue - New York Times: "Four months ago, the White House offered a set of clear political directions to Republicans heading into the midterm elections: embrace the war in Iraq as critical to the antiterrorism fight and belittle Democrats as advocates of a “cut and run” policy of weakness.

With three weeks until Election Day, Republican candidates are barely mentioning Iraq on the campaign trail and in their television advertisements.

Even President Bush, continuing to attack Democrats for opposing the war, has largely dropped his call of “stay the course” and replaced it with a more nuanced promise of flexibility.

It is the Democrats who have seized on Iraq as a central issue. In debates and in speeches, candidates are pummeling Republicans with accusations of a failed war.

Rather than avoiding confrontation on Iraq as they did in 2002 and 2004, they are spotlighting their opposition in new television advertisements that feature mayhem and violence in Iraq, denounce Republicans for supporting Mr. Bush and, in at least one case, demand the ouster of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld."

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Can You Tell a Sunni From a Shiite? - New York Times

Can You Tell a Sunni From a Shiite? Jeff Stein op-ed in the New York Times: "Far the past several months, I’ve been wrapping up lengthy interviews with Washington counterterrorism officials with a fundamental question: “Do you know the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite?”

A “gotcha” question? Perhaps. But if knowing your enemy is the most basic rule of war, I don’t think it’s out of bounds. And as I quickly explain to my subjects, I’m not looking for theological explanations, just the basics: Who’s on what side today, and what does each want?

After all, wouldn’t British counterterrorism officials responsible for Northern Ireland know the difference between Catholics and Protestants? In a remotely similar but far more lethal vein, the 1,400-year Sunni-Shiite rivalry is playing out in the streets of Baghdad, raising the specter of a breakup of Iraq into antagonistic states, one backed by Shiite Iran and the other by Saudi Arabia and other Sunni states.

A complete collapse in Iraq could provide a haven for Al Qaeda operatives within striking distance of Israel, even Europe. And the nature of the threat from Iran, a potential nuclear power with protégés in the Gulf states, northern Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, is entirely different from that of Al Qaeda. It seems silly to have to argue that officials responsible for counterterrorism should be able to recognize opportunities for pitting these rivals against each other.

But so far, most American officials I’ve interviewed don’t have a clue. That includes not just intelligence and law enforcement officials, but also members of Congress who have important roles overseeing our spy agencies. How can they do their jobs without knowing the basics?"

HuffPo: Drobny announces new liberal talk effort

Sheldon and Anita Drobny are launching a new liberal talk radio syndication service, starting with Mike Molloy! Here's Sheldon's post at HuffPo: "The failure of AAR was a business failure caused by terrible managerial decisions, but that does not mean that liberal talk radio is finished. On the contrary, the dream I had 4 years ago is a reality in that there now is a lot of interest in syndicating liberal talk show hosts. And there are many radio station owners who have committed themselves to a full 24/7 liberal format including XM Satellite and Sirius Satellite. In that regard, I am posting a letter from our CEO, Dr. Mike Newcombe."

Check it out. This approach--syndication--makes much more sense than the Air America business model. Much as I liked AA (I can only hear Franken in Atlanta now), we need all the air we can get.

The Odor From Capitol Hill - New York Times

The Odor From Capitol Hill - New York Times editorial: "The G.O.P. leaders have themselves to blame for their multiple millstones. If they had passed actual ethics reform, instead of deep-sixing it in bromides, there could have been a believable independent corruption office to take some of the heat off their current plight as compromised self-investigators. (One of the defeated reforms would have denied pensions to lawmakers convicted of official abuses. Instead, Messrs. Cunningham and Ney are likely to keep collecting behind bars.)

Congressmen caught in wrongdoing at this time of year like to complain that they’re the victims of election-eve politics. If the looming elections inspire whistleblowers, we say bravo. The prospect of voting day fills the vacuum created by the absence of an actual set of enforceable ethics rules in Congress."

AP: NATO general says coalition dropped ball in Afghanistan | ajc.com

NATO general says coalition dropped ball in Afghanistan | ajc.com: "The U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan failed to follow through as it should have after ousting the Taliban government in 2001, setting the stage for this year's deadly resurgence, the NATO commander in the country said Tuesday.

The mistake consisted of adopting 'a peacetime approach' too early, British Gen. David Richards told Pentagon reporters. He said the international community has six months to correct the problem before losing Afghan support, reiterating a warning he issued last week.

'The Taliban were defeated. ... And it looked all pretty hunky-dory,' Richards said of the environment at the end of 2001. 'We thought it was all done ... and didn't treat it as aggressively as ... we should have done.'

Progress on security, rebuilding and good government didn't meet Afghan expectations, and this year the 'Taliban exploited ... this sense of frustration amongst the people,' Richards said in a televised conference from Afghanistan."

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

TP: More proof the GOP is the value-less party

Think Progress reports: "Rep. Don Sherwood (R-PA) had a five-year affair with a 29-year-old woman that ended in 2004 when she called 911 after Sherwood allegedly tried to strangle her. The woman has now sued Sherwood “for what she alleges were repeated beatings that seriously injured her physically and emotionally.”

Sherwood acknowledges he had an affair with the woman, but denies the allegations of abuse.

Now he is in danger of losing his seat, and has been “calling in chits” with “campaign officials and House colleagues.” He’s getting good results."

The President is coming to raise money for ol' Don later this week.

TP: Cheney desperately tries to spin the Iraqi debacle

Think Progress - Cheney: ‘General Overall Situation’ In Iraq Is Going ‘Remarkably Well’: "Rush Limbaugh interviewed Vice President Cheney on his show today. At one point, Limbaugh asked Cheney to respond to growing frustration over U.S. efforts in Iraq.

Cheney acknowledged there is a “natural level of concern out there” because fighting didn’t end “instantaneously.” (Next month, the war will have lasted longer than U.S. fighting in World War II.) Cheney then pointed to various news items to paint a positive picture of conditions in Iraq and concluded, “If you look at the general overall situation, they’re doing remarkably well.”"

BBC: N Korea says sanctions 'are war'

BBC NEWS - N Korea says sanctions 'are war': "North Korea says UN sanctions imposed after its nuclear bomb test are a declaration of war, state media says.

Pyongyang also warned of 'merciless' blows against any country infringing on its sovereignty, the official KCNA news agency reported.

There are reports of new activity at last week's test site, and South Korea and Japan say they have intelligence of a possible second test.

The US says air samples have confirmed the 9 October blast was nuclear."

Monday, October 16, 2006

Poll: 53% say Bush Administration 'hiding something' about 9/11

Bush administration credibility is crashing and burning: "A poll conducted last week by the New York Times and CBS news found that just 16% of Americans believe the Bush Administration is telling the truth about what they knew prior to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.

Poll participants were asked, 'do you think members of the Bush Administration are telling the truth, are mostly telling the truth but hiding something, or are they mostly lying?'

53% of respondents indicated they believe the Bush Administration was hiding something, and another 28% reported that they think the administration is mostly lying 'when it comes to what they knew prior to September 11th, 2001, about possible terrorist attacks against the United States.'

The poll was rele"

LAT: Mehlman does Abramoff's bidding, gets State dept. employee fired

Los Angeles Times: Displease a Lobbyist, Get Fired: "For five years, Allen Stayman wondered who ordered his removal from a State Department job negotiating agreements with tiny Pacific island nations — even when his own bosses wanted him to stay.

Now he knows.

Newly disclosed e-mails suggest that the ax fell after intervention by one of the highest officials at the White House: Ken Mehlman, on behalf of one of the most influential lobbyists in town, Jack Abramoff.

The e-mails show that Abramoff, whose client list included the Northern Mariana Islands, had long opposed Stayman's work advocating labor changes in that U.S. commonwealth, and considered what his lobbying team called the 'Stayman project' a high priority.

'Mehlman said he would get him fired,' an Abramoff associate wrote after meeting with Mehlman, who was then White House political director.

The exchange illustrates how, more than two years after the corruption scandal surrounding the now-disgraced Abramoff came to light, people are still learning the extent of the lobbyist's ability to pull the levers of power in Washington. The latest revelations provide more detail than the Bush administration has acknowledged about how Abramoff and his team reached into high levels of the White House, not just Capitol Hill, which has been the main focus of the influence-peddling investigation."

C&L: David Kuo on 60 Minutes: “The name of God is being destroyed in the name of politics”

Crooks and Liars - David Kuo on 60 Minutes: “The name of God is being destroyed in the name of politics”: "David Kuo is an evangelical Christian and card-carrying member of the religious right, who got a job in the White House in the president’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. He thought it was a dream-come-true: a chance to work for a president whose vision about compassionate conservatism would be matched with sweeping legislation to help the poor.

But Kuo says the so-called compassion agenda has fallen short of its promise and he blames President Bush for that in his new book. As correspondent Lesley Stahl reports, he also says the White House was a place that cynically used religion for political ends and that White House aides ridiculed the very Christian leaders who helped bring Mr. Bush to office.

In his book, Kuo wrote that White House staffers would roll their eyes at evangelicals, calling them 'nuts' and 'goofy.'

Asked if that was really the attitude, Kuo tells Stahl, 'Oh, absolutely. You name the important Christian leader and I have heard them mocked by serious people in serious places.'

Specifically, Kuo says people in the White House political affairs office referred to Pat Robertson as 'insane,' Jerry Falwell as 'ridiculous,' and that James Dobson 'had to be controlled.' And President Bush, he writes, talked about his compassion agenda, but never really fought for it."

C&L has the video.

Drum on the Party Preference Chart

The Washington Monthly's Kevin Drum comments on an interesting NYT chart tracking party preference among 20-year-olds: "What's really most remarkable about the chart is the fantastic shift toward the Democrats in the 20-30 age group. The delta among this cohort between Democrats and Republicans is about 15 in the Democrats' favor, a bigger number than even the Vietnam/Watergate generation. It looks to me like the Christian right's social neanderthalism is causing the Republican Party to lose a generation forever."

Sweeney in NYT: Running a forward-looking campaign

Running With Blinders - OpEd by Kevin Sweeney in New York Times: "We reap what we sow. Divisive campaigns lead to divided government, a fate the American people can no longer afford. The forward-looking candidate, focused not just on electioneering but on governance, knows we must ultimately join hands — so he stops pointing fingers.

The 2004 election, according to some, was a race between fear and anger. Republicans raised fears; Democrats expressed anger. But it is obvious in the abstract that anger could never defeat fear; the two emotions are too closely linked. A forward-looking campaign offers a better strategy for combating fear. It offers, finally, respect and hope."

Faith-Based Profits - New York Times

Faith-Based Profits - New York Times: "Religious institutions should be protected from excessive intrusion by government. Judges should not tell churches who they have to hire as ministers, or meddle in doctrinal disputes. But under pressure from politically influential religious groups, Congress, the White House, and federal and state courts have expanded this principle beyond all reason. It is increasingly being applied to people, buildings and programs only tangentially related to religion.

In its expanded form, this principle amounts to an enormous subsidy for religion, in some cases violating the establishment clause of the First Amendment. It also undermines core American values, like the right to be free from job discrimination. It puts secular entrepreneurs at an unfair competitive disadvantage. And it deprives states and localities of much-needed tax revenues, putting a heavier burden on ordinary taxpayers."

Sunday, October 15, 2006

AP: Bush keeps revising war justification

AP's Tom Raum: Bush keeps revising war justification: "President Bush keeps revising his explanation for why the U.S. is in Iraq, moving from narrow military objectives at first to history-of-civilization stakes now.

Initially, the rationale was specific: to stop Saddam Hussein from using what Bush claimed were the Iraqi leader's weapons of mass destruction or from selling them to al-Qaida or other terrorist groups.

But 3 1/2 years later, with no weapons found, still no end in sight and the war a liability for nearly all Republicans on the ballot Nov. 7, the justification has become far broader and now includes the expansive 'struggle between good and evil.'

Republicans seized on North Korea's reported nuclear test last week as further evidence that the need for strong U.S. leadership extends beyond Iraq.

Bush's changing rhetoric reflects increasing administration efforts to tie the war, increasingly unpopular at home, with the global fight against terrorism, still the president's strongest suit politically."

Democrats Have Intensity, but G.O.P. Has Its Machine - New York Times

Democrats Have Intensity, but G.O.P. Has Its Machine - New York Times: "Voter intensity is a critical element in politics, especially in midterm elections, when Americans’ interest and turnout are typically much lower than in a presidential election year. Pollsters say enthusiasm among Democrats is particularly high this year — significantly higher, by several important measures, than the intensity of Republicans.

Republican strategists counter that they can compensate for any gap in enthusiasm with their legendary get-out-the-vote operation. The party has built its electoral success in the last two elections on identifying and producing nearly every obtainable Republican vote at the polls; this time may be more challenging, they say, but no different.

“I do think our base is coming together and will be coming together later, but four weeks is an eternity in this business,” said Representative Tom Cole, an Oklahoma Republican and longtime party strategist. Republicans will ultimately be motivated to vote, Mr. Cole said, and they will turn out on Election Day even if “this is a race where professionalism has to make up for enthusiasm.”

Even so, in the latest New York Times/CBS News poll, conducted Oct. 5-8, 46 percent of Democrats said they were more enthusiastic about voting this year than in previous Congressional elections, compared with 33 percent of Republicans.

A similar trend appears in recent polls by the Pew Research Center and Gallup, which show that Democrats’ level of engagement is higher than in the midterm elections of 2002, 1998 and especially 1994, when a Republican landslide gave the party control of the House and Senate."

Saturday, October 14, 2006

TP: Three in Four Americans Support Bringing Troops Home From Iraq

Think Progress - Three in Four Americans Support Bringing Troops Home From Iraq: "A new Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll conducted October 10-11 finds that nearly three in four Americans (73 percent) agree that U.S. troops should start to come home.

The Fox News poll asked Americans if they agreed or disagreed with this statement: “The United States has sacrificed enough for the people of Iraq, and now it is time that they take on most of the burden of their security in their country and let U.S. troops to start to come home.”

A strong majority of Americans of all ideological stripes agree with this statement — which is similar to the argument the Center for American Progress makes in the Strategic Redeployment plan released last September — that American troops have done their share, and it is time for Iraqis to take responsibility for their own affairs."

Krugman: Landslide in the making?

AMERICAblog has this excerpt from Krugman's latest in the NYT: "A huge Democratic storm surge is heading toward a high Republican levee. It’s still possible that the surge won’t overtop the levee — that is, the Democrats could fail by a small margin to take control of Congress. But if the surge does go over the top, the flooding will almost surely reach well inland — that is, if the Democrats win, they’ll probably win big....

And here’s the thing: because there are many districts that the G.O.P. carried by only moderately large margins in recent elections, a large Democratic surge — one only a bit bigger than that needed to take the House at all — would sweep away many Republicans holding seats normally considered safe. If the actual vote is anything like what the polls now suggest, we’re talking about the Democrats holding a larger majority in the House than the Republicans have held at any point since their 1994 takeover.

So if the Democrats win, they’ll probably have a substantial majority.....

Bear in mind that the G.O.P. isn’t in trouble because of a string of bad luck. The problems that have caused Americans to turn on the party, from the disaster in Iraq to the botched response to Katrina, from the failed attempt to privatize Social Security to the sudden realization by many voters that the self-proclaimed champions of moral values are hypocrites, are deeply rooted in the whole nature of Republican governance. So even if this surge doesn’t overtop the levee, there will be another surge soon.

But the best guess is that the permanent Republican majority will end in a little over three weeks."

Congressman Pleads Guilty but Won’t Resign for Now - New York Times

Congressman Pleads Guilty but Won’t Resign for Now - New York Times: "Representative Bob Ney, the first member of Congress to confess to crimes in dealings with the lobbyist Jack Abramoff, pleaded guilty to corruption charges Friday but said he would not immediately resign.

Mr. Ney, Republican of Ohio, announced last month that he intended to plead guilty, admitting that in return for official acts, he had accepted tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of gifts from Mr. Abramoff that included lavish trips, meals and tickets to concerts and sporting events. He faces a prison term of more than two years.

But what had not been expected at Friday’s court hearing was Mr. Ney’s disclosure that he intended to remain in Congress for now. The announcement appeared to surprise and infuriate House Republican leaders, who are trying to tamp down other scandals that are threatening to damage the party in next month’s Congressional elections.

After learning that Mr. Ney would not step down immediately and would continue to draw his $165,200-a-year salary, Speaker J. Dennis Hastert and other Republican leaders said they would move to expel him as soon as Congress returns next month for a postelection session."

Gay Marriage Losing Punch as Ballot Issue - New York Times

Gay Marriage Losing Punch as Ballot Issue - New York Times: "The debate over same-sex marriage was a black-or-white proposition two years ago when voters in 11 states barred gay couples from marrying.

But this year shades of gray are everywhere, as eight more states consider similar ballot measures. Some of the proposed bans are struggling in the polls, and the issue of same-sex marriage itself has largely failed to rouse conservative voters.

In some cases, other issues, like the war in Iraq and ethics in Washington, have seized voters’ attention. But the biggest change, people on both sides of the issue say, is that supporters of same-sex marriage this year are likely to be as mobilized as the opponents."

Friday, October 13, 2006

Air America Radio files Chapter 11 - CNN.com

Air America Radio files Chapter 11 - CNN.com: "Air America Radio, a liberal talk and news radio network that features the comedian Al Franken, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, a network official told The AP.

The network had denied rumors just a month ago that it would file for bankruptcy. On Friday, Air America spokeswoman Jaime Horn told The Associated Press that the filing became necessary only recently after negotiations with a creditor from the company's early days broke down.

The network will stay on the air while it resolves issues with its creditors, Horn said. In addition to Franken, the network also features shows from liberal talk show host Randi Rhodes and Jerry Springer."

Reuters: UK Army Chief urges withdrawal from Iraq

Army chief urges pullout: "Britain's army chief said his troops should be withdrawn from
Iraq soon as their presence was making security worse, in bluntly worded comments seized upon by opponents of the U.S.-led invasion three years ago.

Chief of the General Staff Richard Dannatt told the Daily Mail newspaper that post-war planning for the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was 'poor' and the presence of troops there was hurting British security globally.

The remarks, extraordinary from such a senior serving officer, could have political fallout on both sides of the Atlantic. "

NYSun: Baker's Panel Rules Out Iraq Victory

An explosive story in The New York Sun: "A commission formed to assess the Iraq war and recommend a new course has ruled out the prospect of victory for America, according to draft policy options shared with The New York Sun by commission officials.

Currently, the 10-member commission — headed by a secretary of state for President George H.W. Bush, James Baker — is considering two option papers, 'Stability First' and 'Redeploy and Contain,' both of which rule out any prospect of making Iraq a stable democracy in the near term.

More telling, however, is the ruling out of two options last month. One advocated minor fixes to the current war plan but kept intact the long-term vision of democracy in Iraq with regular elections. The second proposed that coalition forces focus their attacks only on Al Qaeda and not the wider insurgency.

Instead, the commission is headed toward presenting President Bush with two clear policy choices that contradict his rhetoric of establishing democracy in Iraq. The more palatable of the two choices for the White House, 'Stability First,' argues that the military should focus on stabilizing Baghdad while the American Embassy should work toward political accommodation with insurgents. The goal of nurturing a democracy in Iraq is dropped.


WSJ: Scientists study effects of fear and terror on voters

Science Journal in the Wall Street Journal (h/t Kos): "A growing number of studies offer clues as to how terrorism and other deadly events affect people's voting decisions. The latest research shows that because such violent political acts are brutal reminders of death, they make conservatives, but not liberals, more hostile toward those perceived as different, and more supportive of extreme military policies, according to a study in April in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

For 20 years, researchers have been exploring how people manage the fear engendered by intimations of mortality. Reminded of the inevitability of their own death (which happens to a lesser degree by merely walking past a funeral parlor), people try to quench or at least manage the resulting 'existential terror' in several ways. They become more certain of their worldview or faith. They conform more closely to the norms of their society. They show greater reverence for symbols of their society, such as flags and crucifixes.

All of these make people feel more secure and, crucially, a part of something larger -- something that will outlive them.

Building up your own worldview requires disparaging (even unconsciously) that of others. If beliefs that contradict yours have any worth, then by definition they call into question the absolute validity of your own. The result is stronger feelings of hostility toward those with different values and beliefs."

Blumenthal in The Nation: The Coming Gay Republican Purge

The Coming Gay Republican Purge: "Immediately after the Mark Foley scandal broke, some anti-Republican gay-rights activists composed a memo containing the names of closeted gay Republican Congressional staffers and sent it to leading Christian-right advocacy groups. The founder and chairman of one of those groups, the Rev. Don Wildmon of the American Family Association, told me he has received that memo, which he referred to simply as 'The List.' Based on The List's contents, Wildmon is convinced that a secretive gay 'clique' boring within the Republican-controlled Congress is responsible for covering up Foley's sexual predation toward teenage male House pages. Moreover, Wildmon calls on the Republican Party leadership to promptly purge the 'subversive' gay staffers.

'They oughtta fire every one of 'em,' Wildmon told me in his trademark Mississippi drawl. 'I don't care if they're heterosexual or homosexual or whatever they are. If you've got that going on, that subverts the will of the people; that subverts the voters. That is subversive activity. There should be no organization among staffers in Washington of that nature, and if they find out that they're there and they're a member, they oughtta be dismissed el pronto.'"

A Growing Free-for-All - New York Times

A Growing Free-for-All - New York Times: "By approving the merger between AT&T and BellSouth unconditionally, the Bush administration has again abdicated responsibility for protecting consumers when huge companies combine.

Fierce competition between private companies is at the core of the nation’s economic strength. But government still has an important role to play as referee, making sure that the rough-and-tumble game of capitalism doesn’t become perversely uncompetitive through significant concentrations of market power in the hands of a few companies.

From the very start, the Bush administration’s approach to antitrust and merger policy has been much more hands-off than its predecessors’. In an era of rapid consolidation and deregulation, the Justice Department hasn’t brought a single major monopoly case under the Sherman Antitrust Act since the Clinton administration went after Microsoft for illegally defending its monopoly for the Windows operating system. The department settled that case during President Bush’s first year in office.

That set the tone for a merger policy that often appears to be little more than “anything goes.” One gets the impression at times that the referee has left the playing field."

Ex-Gov. Warner Decides to Forgo White House Run - New York Times

Warner bows out--too bad, as I think he had something to offer: "Mark Warner, the former Virginia governor who had spent the last year working to establish himself as Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s biggest potential rival for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, announced Thursday that he would not run. His decision sent other Democrats scrambling to reposition themselves.

Mr. Warner, who five years ago became the first Democrat elected governor of Virginia since 1989, had drawn broad interest among party leaders assessing the potential 2008 field, both as a centrist elected in a Southern state and as a wealthy entrepreneur able to finance his own campaign.

But at a news conference in Richmond and in a subsequent interview, he said he had increasingly turned against the idea of running as he found that the obligations of even exploring a candidacy were consuming him and taking him away from family obligations. He said he had long set Columbus Day weekend as a deadline for making a final decision, fearing that to wait any longer would compromise aides who might want to sign on with other presidential campaigns.

“This is the right time politically,” he said in the interview. “It’s just not the right time for me in my life at this time.”"

BBC: US rejects UK Guantanamo criticisms

BBC NEWS reports how we're pissing off one of our few allies in the world: "The US government has rebuffed UK calls to close its controversial detention centre at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

The UK foreign minister said it was unacceptable on human rights grounds and ineffective in fighting terrorism.

But a US spokesman said the camp was needed to house 'some very dangerous people', including those who were behind the 9/11 attacks.

Meanwhile fresh allegations of abuse of inmates by US prison guards at the camp have emerged.

Marine Sgt Heather Cerveny, who went to the base three weeks ago as a legal aide to a military lawyer, said five navy guards described in detail how they beat up detainees.

'The one sailor specifically said 'I took the detainee by the head and smashed his head into the cell door',' she said in an affidavit.

The BBC's James Westhead, in Washington, says the allegations are significant because they come from a serving member of the US military."

BBC : Bank founder gets Nobel Peace Prize

BBC NEWS | Europe | Nobel for anti-poverty pioneers: "Bangladesh's Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank have been awarded the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize.

Mr Yunus, an economist, founded the bank, which is one of the pioneers of micro-credit lending schemes for the poor in Bangladesh.

The bank is renowned for lending money to the least well-off, especially women, so that they can launch their own businesses.

The winners receive a prize of 10m Swedish kronor ($1.07m, �730,000).

Mr Yunus, 66, told Norway's NRK public television that he was 'delighted, really delighted', AFP news agency reported.

'You are endorsing a dream to achieve a poverty-free world,' he said."

UPDATE: I wanted to make sure you saw this wonderful comment posted by Atunu:
I'm a Bangladeshi and words can't describe how we are feeling at this very moment :') Dr Yunus has worked very hard to establish his idea of microcredit and alleviate the condition of a majority of village dwellers abandoned by their government and social stigma. Bangladesh has been nominated "the" most corrupt country by transparency international for the last couple of years, I hope this achievement will work towards diminishing that.

There aren't too many ideal figures in BD to whom todays youth may look with their heads up, Dr Yunus is certainly one of them.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

MoJo: Five Scandals that Could Put Republicans in Jail

AlterNet: Five Scandals that Could Put Republicans in Jail, by James Ridgeway of Mother Jones: "The Foley cover-up is just the tip of the iceberg. If the Democrats succeed in retaking Congress this fall, here are five investigations they should get started on right away."

Olbermann on the murder of another right: habeas corpus

Media Matters: Debunking the Foley myth machine

Media Matters has answered all the GOP myths about the Foley case: "The scandal surrounding the sexually explicit electronic communications former Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) allegedly sent to underage former congressional pages -- and the House Republican leadership's alleged cover-up of Foley's behavior -- have produced a wave of misinformation. To aid members of the media in covering the scandal, Media Matters for America has compiled a list of the top myths, falsehoods, and baseless assertions surrounding the controversy."

MSNBC: Life in Iraq is a horror

Calling Bob in Baghdad - Blogging Baghdad by NBC news correspondent Jane Arraf (h/t Kos): "Some readers and viewers think we journalists are exaggerating about the situation in Iraq. I can almost understand that because who would want to believe that things are this bad? Particularly when so many people here started out with such good intentions.

I'm more puzzled by comments that the violence isn't any worse than any American city. Really? In which American city do 60 bullet-riddled bodies turn up on a given day? In which city do the headless bodies of ordinary citizens turn up every single day? In which city would it not be news if neighborhood school children were blown up? In which neighborhood would you look the other way if gunmen came into restaurants and shot dead the customers?

Day-to-day life here for Iraqis is so far removed from the comfortable existence we live in the United States that it is almost literally unimaginable.

It's almost impossible to describe what it feels like being stalled in traffic, your heart pounding, wondering if the vehicle in front of you is one of the three or four car bombs that will go off that day. Or seeing your husband show up at the door covered in blood after he was kidnapped and beaten.

I don't know a single family here that hasn't had a relative, neighbor or friend die violently. In places where there's been all-out fighting going on, I've interviewed parents who buried their dead child in the yard because it was too dangerous to go to the morgue.

Imagine the worst day you've ever had in your life, add a regular dose of terror and you'll begin to get an idea of what it's like every day for a lot of people here."

NYT on the hysterically doubting Sen. Inhofe

Doubting Inhofe - New York Times editorial: "Mr. Inhofe has buttressed himself with a small jury of scientists who argue that climate change is only natural. But he has really buttressed himself with the will to disbelieve. He accuses scientists and the media of hysteria. But if there is such a thing as a hysteria of doubt, then Mr. Inhofe is its master."

The Age of Impunity - New York Times

The Age of Impunity - New York Times editorial: "Welcome to the new age of impunity.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. The Iraq war and President Bush’s with-us-or-against-us war on terrorism was supposed to frighten the bad guys so much that they wouldn’t dare cross the United States. But the opposite has happened. President Bush has squandered so much of America’s moral authority — not to mention our military resources — that efforts to shame or bully the right behavior from adversaries (and allies) sound hollow."

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

C&L: Bush puts head in sand, tells Iraqis to lie back and enjoy it (essentially)

Crooks and Liars has the video of Bush's morning presser, and this unbelievable excerpt: "MALVEAUX: Thank you, Mr. President. Back on Iraq, a group of American and Iraqi health officials today released a report saying that 655,000 Iraqis have died since the Iraq war. That figure is 20 times the figure that you cited in December at 30,000. Do you care to amend or update your figure and do you consider this a credible report?

BUSH: No, I don’t consider it a credible report, neither does General Casey and neither do Iraqi officials. I do know that a lot of innocent people have died and it troubles me and grieves me and I applaud the Iraqis for their courage in the face of violence. I am, you know, amazed that this is a society which so wants to be free that they’re willing to…you know, that there’s a level of violence that they tolerate. And it's now time for the Iraqi government to work hard to bring security in neighborhoods so people can feel–you know–at peace."

C&L: Olbermann busts Christian-butt-kissing GOP hypocrites

Crooks and Liars has the video: "Tonight on Countdown–David Kuo, who was the number two guy at the Office of Faith Based initiatives in the White House writes a scathing account of how the administration used Christians to grab and maintain power. This story validates Tucker Carlson's admission that: 'The deep truth is that the elites in the Republican Party have pure contempt for the evangelicals who put their party in power.'"

AMERICAblog: Why is AP's Solomon after Reid?

John has a great take-down of the AP reporter's latest lame attack: "John Solomon, ace Associated Press reporter (the guy who makes lots of mistakes and then gets $500 from AP rather than a correction), has come out with another hit piece against Harry Reid, conveniently right before the congressional elections.

But this time, it's a different kind of piece. In addition to being factually wrong - we're kind of used to that at this point from AP - this article simply makes no sense.

I have a law degree. And I'm a professional journalist, I've written for the Economist and other serious publications, and am no dummy. And try as I might, I couldn't make heads or tales of the AP story - it's just thick as hell, indecipherable, and doesn't really say anything.

In a nutshell, here's what I was able to translate from the original Latin.

Harry Reid bought some land in the late 90s, and over a several year period tripled his investment. Okay. Most everyone I know, other than me, did the same over that period. Still, AP calls this a 'windfall.' Apparently, the AP has been asleep the past ten years while land prices have soared. Anyway, Harry Reid transferred his land to an LLC, in which he was still a party, and when time came to sell the LLC, they gave Reid his portion of the return on the land and also gave him back the value of his initial investment (i.e., the value of the land itself when he gave it to the LLC).

You still with me?

Now, you'd think perhaps the AP caught Harry Reid not reporting his holdings to the Senate Ethics Committee? No, he did it. How about not reporting the land sale and his profits to the Ethics Committee? No, he did that too. So what did Harry Reid do wrong? He didn't tell the Ethics Committee he transferred the land to an LLC whi he was still a party in - though he did report to the committee that he still owned the land, which was true. Why does that detail matter? Got me. You'll have to read a four page AP story to try to figure that one out.

The other 'I gotcha' from the AP? They didn't like the way Reid paid his property taxes."

By the way, has the AP reported on Georgia's Republican Governor Sonny Perdue signing a bill his friend introduced that retroactively brought him a $100K windfall on some of his property?

Study Puts War's Iraqi Death Tally at More Than 600,000 - Los Angeles Times

Study Puts War's Iraqi Death Tally at More Than 600,000 - Los Angeles Times: "More than 600,000 Iraqis have died violently since the U.S.-led invasion, according to a new estimate that is far higher than any other to date.

The report, by a team of researchers criticized for its death estimates two years ago, says that 601,027 Iraqis have suffered violent deaths since the March 2003 invasion. It also suggests that the country has become more violent in the last year.

'This clearly is a much higher number than many people have been thinking about,' said Gilbert Burnham, the report's lead author and a professor at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University. 'It shows the violence has spread across the country.'

Iraq's violent death rate rose from 3.2 deaths per 1,000 people in the year after the invasion to 12 per 1,000 from June 2005 to June 2006, according to the researchers, whose findings are being published this week in the British medical journal Lancet."

Harpers: Dem "October Surprise" a lie

Republicans Want to Turn Over a New Page (Harpers.org): "The Republican leadership is lying when they claim that Democrats have engineered an “October Surprise”; there was never a plan to undermine the G.O.P. or to destroy Hastert personally, as the speaker has vaingloriously suggested. I know this with absolute certainty because Harper’s was offered the story almost five months ago and decided, after much debate, not to run it here on Washington Babylon."

Meanwhile, I remember reading a few months ago that Rove will have a GOP October surprise, and speculation was about an invasion of Iran. Will he still have something up his sleeve? North Korea?

NYDN: Trudeau's blog for soldiers

New York Daily News - Home - David Hinckley: 'Doonesbury's blog of war: "It might seem mildly ironic that some of the most relentless, penetrating and sobering commentary about the effect of the Iraqi war on flesh-and-blood soldiers has come in a comic strip.

On the other hand, it wouldn't surprise anyone who has followed Garry Trudeau's 'Doonesbury.' Trudeau has always seen the strip as a stealth media missile, a way to slip some truth into the glass that washes things down with a splash of humor.

If that sounds difficult, it is. Equally difficult, Trudeau has managed something many war supporters maintain is not possible: taking the side of the troops who are fighting the war while consistently lampooning those who got them into it.

Now he has taken a further step, using his Web site to launch a military weblog, or milblog, called The Sandbox. It's a forum for soldiers, family and spouses to kick around 'the unclassified details of deployment - the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd.'"

TPM: Let's review the Korean facts

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall October 11, 2006 02:29 AM: In the face of Condi and McCain blaming the Clinton administration for the nuclear problems in North Korea today, "let's review the salient facts one more time.

'Failure' =1994-2002 -- Era of Clinton 'Agreed Framework': No plutonium production. All existing plutonium under international inspection. No bomb.

'Success' = 2002-2006 -- Bush Policy Era: Active plutonium production. No international inspections of plutonium stocks. Nuclear warhead detonated.

Face it. They ditched an imperfect but working policy. They replaced it with nothing. Now North Korea is a nuclear state."

Jimmy Carter in NYT on the Korean Stalemate

Solving the Korean Stalemate, One Step at a Time - New York Times: "The current military situation is similar but worse than it was a decade ago: we can still destroy North Korea’s army, but if we do it is likely to result in many more than a million South Korean and American casualties.

If and when it is confirmed that the recent explosion in North Korea was nuclear, the international community will once again be faced with difficult choices."

Monday, October 09, 2006

WaPo: The Rev'd Up Tutu

Rev'd Up - washingtonpost.com: "The cleric is laughing. He laughs a lot. He can't help it. Desmond Tutu is tickled by his life, his faith, his God, so the giggles just bubble out, cresting sometimes in a hilariously showy cackle. The former Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, the David to the old Goliath that was apartheid, Tutu can be seized with this joy at just about any time."

Brilliant Bush impersonator

Frank Caliendo from Letterman: Hilarious!

Media Matters : Dobson thinks Foley matter a joke

Media Matters - Echoing Drudge and Savage, Dobson and Henninger claimed Foley scandal is "sort of a joke" and a "prank" by pages: "Commenting on the congressional page scandal surrounding former Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) on the October 6 broadcast of Focus on the Family, James Dobson, founder and chairman of Focus on the Family, declared that the Foley affair has 'turned out to be what some people are now saying was a -- sort of a joke by the boy and some of the other pages' who had reportedly come forward with sexually explicit instant messages that Foley allegedly sent. Similarly, in his October 6 column, Wall Street Journal deputy editorial page editor Daniel Henninger wrote that 'a rumor emerged that in fact Mark Foley had been pranked by the House pages' and then added: 'It is the first plausible thing I've heard in seven days.'"

Nora Ephron: And yet ...

Nora Ephron makes a point at The Huffington Post: "It's of course delicious to watch the Republicans hoist on the petard of their own homophobia.

And yet.

And yet there's something about this entire Mark Foley episode that makes me uncomfortable."

TIME.com: The End of a Revolution

TIME.com: The End of the Republican Revolution: "Every revolution begins with the power of an idea and ends when clinging to power is the only idea left. The epitaph for the movement that started when Newt Gingrich and his forces rose from the back bench of the House chamber in 1994 may well have been written last week in the same medium that incubated it: talk radio. On conservative commentator Laura Ingraham's show, the longest-serving Republican House Speaker in history explained why he would not resign despite a sex scandal that has produced a hail of questions about his leadership and the failure to stop one of his members from cyberstalking teenage congressional pages. 'If I fold up my tent and leave,' Dennis Hastert told her, 'then where does that leave us? If the Democrats sweep, then we'd have no ability to fight back and get our message out.'

That quiet admission may have been the most damning one yet in the unfolding scandal surrounding Florida Congressman Mark Foley: holding on to power has become not just the means but also the end for the onetime reformers who in 1994 unseated a calcified and corrupted Democratic majority. Washington scandals, it seems, have been following a Moore's law of their own, coming at a faster clip every time there is a shift in control. It took 40 years for the House Democrats to exhaust their goodwill. It may take only 12 years for the Republicans to get there."

AJC Op-Ed: Blame game corners Republican leaders

Blame game corners Republican leaders - John Farmer via ajc.com: "It's hard to know which is more damaging to the Republican image and the GOP's midterm election prospects: Woodward's revelations, which raise questions about the Bush administration's truthfulness about Iraq and the war on terrorism, or the Foley affair and the suggestion of cover-up, which undermines the GOP's claim to be the party of 'family values.'

But together, they add up to a meltdown of the Bush government in Washington, where it's suddenly every man for himself."

G.O.P.’s Baker Hints Iraq Plan Needs Change - New York Times

G.O.P.’s Baker Hints Iraq Plan Needs Change - New York Times: "James A. Baker III, the Republican co-chairman of a bipartisan panel reassessing Iraq strategy for President Bush, said Sunday that he expected the panel would depart from Mr. Bush’s repeated calls to “stay the course,” and he strongly suggested that the White House enter direct talks with countries it had so far kept at arm’s length, including Iran and Syria.

“I believe in talking to your enemies,” he said in an interview on the ABC News program “This Week,” noting that he made 15 trips to Damascus, the Syrian capital, while serving Mr. Bush’s father as secretary of state.

“It’s got to be hard-nosed, it’s got to be determined,” Mr. Baker said. “You don’t give away anything, but in my view, it’s not appeasement to talk to your enemies.”

Mr. Bush refused to deal with Iran until this spring, when he said the United States would join negotiations with Tehran if it suspended enriching nuclear fuel. Iran has so far refused. Contacts with both Syria and North Korea have also been sharply limited.

But the “Iraq Study Group,” created by Mr. Baker last March with the encouragement of some members of Congress to come up with new ideas on Iraq strategy, has already talked to some representatives of Iran and Syria about Iraq’s future, he said."

Are we seeing a clash of the Bushes?

BBC: Is Pakistan spy agency aiding the Taliban?

BBC NEWS | South Asia | Nato to press Pakistan on Taleban: "Nato's commander in Afghanistan is due in Pakistan amid accusations by Afghan politicians that the Pakistani spy agency, ISI, is helping the Taleban.

Gen David Richards, a British officer, is expected to meet President Pervez Musharraf during his visit.

Gen Musharraf has denied claims the ISI is indirectly aiding the Taleban.

Gen Richards has warned that the majority of Afghan people may start to support the Taleban unless their lives improve in the next six months.

He assumed responsibility for the whole of Afghanistan from the US coalition last week.

Nato forces in the south are facing mounting casualties as they engage in fighting with a resurgent Taleban."


BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | North Korea claims nuclear test: "North Korea says it has carried out its first test of a nuclear weapon.

It said the underground test, carried out in defiance of international warnings, was a success and had not resulted in any leak of radiation.

The US said intelligence had detected a seismic event at a suspected test site and Russia said was '100% certain' a nuclear test had occurred.

The US said the reported test was a 'provocative act', while China denounced it as 'brazen'."

Sunday, October 08, 2006

AP: NATO chief warns of Afghan tipping point

Iraq is going down the tubes, and now Afghanistan, our success, may be too: "NATO's top commander in Afghanistan said Sunday the country was at a tipping point and warned Afghans would likely switch their allegiance to resurgent Taliban militants if there are no visible improvements in people's lives in the next six months.

Gen. David Richards, a British officer who commands NATO's 32,000 troops here, warned in an interview with The Associated Press that if life doesn't get better over the winter, most Afghans could switch sides."

AP: Allen didn't disclose stock options

AP has the story on another problem for Sen. Allen: "For the past five years, Sen. George Allen (news, bio, voting record), has failed to tell Congress about stock options he got for his work as a director of a high-tech company. The Virginia Republican also asked the Army to help another business that gave him similar options.

Congressional rules require senators to disclose to the Senate all deferred compensation, such as stock options. The rules also urge senators to avoid taking any official action that could benefit them financially or appear to do so.

Those requirements exist so the public can police lawmakers for possible conflicts of interest, especially involving companies with government business that lawmakers can influence."

Saturday, October 07, 2006

AMERICAblog: The Foley blame game

AMERICAblog links to a CNN story stating that Foley resigned after CREW posted some of his emails: "That is a flat-out lie.

Foley resigned because ABC called him up and read him the salacious instant messages they'd just received from God-knows-who. CREW published the emails online AFTER ABC had already reporting on the emails and quoted the relevant substance. Not to mention, I published the emails online at the same time, as did RawStory, as did ABC I suspect and many others. So what exactly is CNN's point here?

Oh that's right, CNN and MSNBC and the rest of the mainstream media are trying to blame the Democrats for the fact that the Republicans coddled a child molester. I forgot that 'fairness' means blaming both parties even though only one screwed up."

O'Donnell: Closeted Gay Republicans and a Party in Political Free-Fall

The Blog | Lawrence O'Donnell: Closeted Gay Republicans and a Party in Political Free-Fall | The Huffington Post: "The LA Times has outed Kirk Fordham today. He will not be the last closeted gay Republican outed by this scandal.

Today's NY Times has a chart that outlines the 'key communications' in the House of Representatives about Mark Foley's inappropriate contact with pages. More than one of the names in the chart, which includes Kirk Fordham, are rumored to be closeted gay Republicans who have been working at the highest levels of the Republican leadership.

They have been looking at their names in print for the last couple of days and no doubt fearing for their futures in a Party that is in political free-fall."

Rove aide resigns in fallout over Abramoff report - Yahoo! News

Rove aide resigns in fallout over Abramoff report - Yahoo! News: "An aide to top White House political adviser Karl Rove resigned in the fallout over a congressional report showing many White House contacts with ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, a spokeswoman said on Friday."

Getting pretty close to the top now.

Boehlert on Drudge's crash-and-burn news week

Eat The Press | Eric Boehlert: Oops, I Thought Matt Drudge Was the "Walter Cronkite of His Era" | The Huffington Post: "Famous for doing the GOP's bidding by launching smear offensives against Democrats (see the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth), Matt Drudge this week became completely unglued over the widening Mark Foley scandal, flailing around trying to help Republicans get back on the offensive.

First Drudge claimed Foley was the victim of underage teenage 'beasts' who were 'egging the congressman on' with their lurid communications. When that trial balloon went over like a lead zeppelin, Drudge posted a screaming headline about how one now-famous IM exchange was between Foley and an 18 year old page, as if that made everything okay. Strike three came Thursday when Drudge went into high alert 'world exclusive' mode (would anybody else really want to claim it?) that 'the now famous lurid AOL Instant Message exchanges that led to the resignation of Mark Foley were part of an online prank that by mistake got into the hands of enemy political operatives.'

I'm laughing even harder than everyone else because I just got done reading The Way to Win, the brand new conventional wisdom Beltway blueprint to electoral riches by ABC's Mark Halperin and the Washington Post's John Harris. Wildly impressed by Drudge's acumen and--readers are assured--his nearly limitless media power, Halperin and Harris devote an entire chapter to Drudge, toasting his 'visionary' 'insights' and anointing him 'the Walter Cronkite of his era.' (ABC News repeated the claim in a report this week, simply cribbing off Halperin's book. How's that for synergy?)"

Friday, October 06, 2006

What Pelosi would do in the first 100 hours

Pelosi says she would drain GOP 'swamp' (AP via Yahoo): "House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi is thinking 100 hours, time enough, she says, to begin to 'drain the swamp' after more than a decade of Republican rule.

As in the first 100 hours the House meets after Democrats — in her fondest wish — win control in the Nov. 7 midterm elections and Pelosi takes the gavel as the first Madam Speaker in history."

What a hopeful to-do list.

Drudge tones down his exclusive

DRUDGE REPORT FLASH 2006 Yesterday afternoon, Drudge had a siren-iconed, "World Exclusive--Must Credit Drudge Report" story saying something like the Foley IMs were a prank by pages gone awry. The story was virtually incomprehensible (as ThinkProgress and others also noticed). This morning, it's just a line, the flashing lights are gone, the exclusive note is gone, and Drudge headlines it as a "CLAIM: FILTHY FOLEY ONLINE CHATS WERE PAGE 'PRANK GONE AWRY'". His update includes a strong denial from the source's attorney, apparently:

"Late Thursday, Jones [the source ex-page's attorney] stongly denied the exchanges with Foley were a prank by the former page. Jones said, "There is not any aspect of this matter that is a practical joke nor should anyone treat it that way."

But those close to Jordan Edmund [the source] stand by their accounts of what Jordan told them."

Feingold: The Most Outrageous Scandal? Bush's Iraq Policy

The Blog | Sen. Russ Feingold: The Most Outrageous Scandal? Bush's Iraq Policy | The Huffington Post: "With so much attention focused on the Foley scandal, there's another story that hasn't received enough notice: escalating violence in Iraq has resulted in the reported deaths of 24 U.S. soldiers since Saturday, and the Pentagon just reported that IED attacks in Iraq are at an all-time high."

C&L: Olbermann’s Special Comment: It is not the Democrats whose inaction in the face of the enemy you fear

Crooks and Liars - Olbermann’s Special Comment: It is not the Democrats whose inaction in the face of the enemy you fear: "Olbermann: And lastly tonight, a Special Comment, about — lying. While the leadership in Congress has self-destructed over the revelations of an unmatched, and unrelieved, march through a cesspool… While the leadership inside the White House has self-destructed over the revelations of a book with a glowing red cover…

The President of the United States — unbowed, undeterred, and unconnected to reality — has continued his extraordinary trek through our country rooting out the enemies of freedom: The Democrats."

C&L has the video.

Evangelicals Fear the Loss of Their Teenagers - New York Times

Evangelicals Fear the Loss of Their Teenagers - New York Times: "Despite their packed megachurches, their political clout and their increasing visibility on the national stage, evangelical Christian leaders are warning one another that their teenagers are abandoning the faith in droves.

At an unusual series of leadership meetings in 44 cities this fall, more than 6,000 pastors are hearing dire forecasts from some of the biggest names in the conservative evangelical movement.

Their alarm has been stoked by a highly suspect claim that if current trends continue, only 4 percent of teenagers will be “Bible-believing Christians” as adults. That would be a sharp decline compared with 35 percent of the current generation of baby boomers, and before that, 65 percent of the World War II generation.

While some critics say the statistics are greatly exaggerated (one evangelical magazine for youth ministers dubbed it “the 4 percent panic attack”), there is widespread consensus among evangelical leaders that they risk losing their teenagers.

“I’m looking at the data,” said Ron Luce, who organized the meetings and founded Teen Mania, a 20-year-old youth ministry, “and we’ve become post-Christian America, like post-Christian Europe. We’ve been working as hard as we know how to work — everyone in youth ministry is working hard — but we’re losing.”

The board of the National Association of Evangelicals, an umbrella group representing 60 denominations and dozens of ministries, passed a resolution this year deploring “the epidemic of young people leaving the evangelical church.”"

Thursday, October 05, 2006

AP: Bush says he can edit security reports

Bush again uses a "signing statement" to tell Congress the bill he signed won't be enforced: "President Bush, again defying Congress, says he has the power to edit the Homeland Security Department's reports about whether it obeys privacy rules while handling background checks, ID cards and watchlists.

In the law Bush signed Wednesday, Congress stated no one but the privacy officer could alter, delay or prohibit the mandatory annual report on Homeland Security department activities that affect privacy, including complaints.

But Bush, in a signing statement attached to the agency's 2007 spending bill, said he will interpret that section 'in a manner consistent with the President's constitutional authority to supervise the unitary executive branch.'"

Raw: Amid questions, ABC says messages 'couldn't be a prank'

The Raw Story has an update on Drudge's red alert story that the Foley IM was just a page prank gone awry. Now Drudge has added that the charge regards only one of the many examples...: "Faced with claims by the conservative political website The Drudge Report on Thursday that lurid instant message exchanges between disgraced former Congressman Mark Foley (R-FL) and the former page who was outed on a conservative website yesterday were the result of an elaborate prank, insiders at ABC News say the network stands behind its story.

It has also announced that three more pages have come forward with information about alleged Foley misdoings.

Drudge alleges that the young Republican 'goaded Foley to type embarrassing comments that were then shared with a small group of young Hill politicos' and that 'the prank went awry when the saved IM sessions got into the hands of political operatives favorable to Democrats.'

Sources inside ABC News tell RAW STORY that the evidence of widespread misconduct by Foley is overwhelming and rules out the possibility that the entire scandal is based on a prank or a sting."

Is Obama Getting Serious About '08?

Is Obama Getting Serious About '08? - Newsweek Jonathan Alter - MSNBC.com: "sk Washington insiders about Sen. Barack Obama's presidential hopes, and you'll get a pat response: great idea, a cycle or three from now--or maybe this time as veep. But they need to get out more. I’ve talked to Democrats in 10 cities in the last four months and found Obama fever throughout the Democratic Party. Besides an online Al Gore boomlet, no one else raises a reaction anything like it. More impressively, there's now a distinct possibility that Obama may seize the moment and run in '08. A close associate introduces a note of caution: “I’d put the chances right now at no better than 50 percent,” he told me Tuesday, as Obama taped Oprah’s show in Chicago. Fifty percent? For Obama-hungry Democrats, those are much better odds than they’ve assumed. Whatever happens in the midterms, ’08 could get very exciting, very fast"

SoJo: Interview with Moby

Sojourners has an interesting article with megamusician Moby that's worth checking out: "Though pop music superstar Moby has sold over 15 million records, had his 1999 smash Play listed as one of Rolling Stone magazine’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time,” and generally found worldwide success, he has never quite fit into the typical boxes of celebrity. For this former punk rocker turned underground electronic music phenomenon, being upfront about his ideals isn’t a problem – even when diametrically opposed to that typically seen from the rich and famous."

SoJo: Interview with Moby

: "Though pop music superstar Moby has sold over 15 million records, had his 1999 smash Play listed as one of Rolling Stone magazine’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time,” and generally found worldwide success, he has never quite fit into the typical boxes of celebrity. For this former punk rocker turned underground electronic music phenomenon, being upfront about his ideals isn’t a problem – even when diametrically opposed to that typically seen from the rich and famous."