CephasWorld: Stuff I Like
The intersection of politics, faith, pop culture, and other surprises.
Friday, June 30, 2006
Truth, Justice and (Fill in the Blank) - New York Times
Erik Lundegaard on the familiar phrase describing Superman's mission, to fight for "truth, justice and the American way." He reveals it didn't start out that way: "Some people are now objecting to the fact that 'Superman Returns' omits the phrase. Perry White asks his reporters to find out more about the Man of Steel after his five-year absence. 'Does he still stand for truth, justice, all that stuff?' he says. Right-wing blogs are already red-faced at the slight.
There's no reason to be upset. Superman is right back where he began: fighting a never-ending battle for truth and justice. That should be enough to occupy any man. Even a Superman."
A Secret the Terrorists Already Knew - New York Times
Richard Clarke and Roger Cressey in a New York Times op-ed: "Terrorists have for many years employed nontraditional communications and money transfers — including the ancient Middle Eastern hawala system, involving couriers and a loosely linked network of money brokers — precisely because they assume that international calls, e-mail and banking are monitored not only by the United States but by Britain, France, Israel, Russia and even many third-world countries.
While this was not news to terrorists, it may, it appears, have been news to some Americans, including some in Congress. But should the press really be called unpatriotic by the administration, and even threatened with prosecution by politicians, for disclosing things the terrorists already assumed?
In the end, all the administration denunciations do is give the press accounts an even higher profile. If administration officials were truly concerned that terrorists might learn something from these reports, they would be wise not to give them further attention by repeatedly fulminating about them.
There is, of course, another possible explanation for all the outraged bloviating. It is an election year. Karl Rove has already said that if it were up to the Democrats, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi would still be alive. The attacks on the press are part of a political effort by administration officials to use terrorism to divide America, and to scare their supporters to the polls again this year."
A Victory for the Rule of Law - New York Times
A Victory for the Rule of Law - New York Times: "The Supreme Court's decision striking down the military tribunals set up to try the detainees being held in Guant�namo Bay is far more than a narrow ruling on the issue of military courts. It is an important and welcome reaffirmation that even in times of war, the law is what the Constitution, the statute books and the Geneva Conventions say it is — not what the president wants it to be."
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Anglican Plan Threatens Split on Gay Issues - New York Times
Anglican Plan Threatens Split on Gay Issues - New York Times: "In a defining moment in the Anglican Communion's civil war over homosexuality, the Archbishop of Canterbury proposed a plan yesterday that could force the Episcopal Church in the United States either to renounce gay bishops and same-sex unions or to give up full membership in the Communion.
The archbishop, the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, said the 'best way forward' was to devise a shared theological 'covenant' and ask each province, as the geographical divisions of the church are called, to agree to abide by it.
Provinces that agree would retain full status as 'constituent churches,' and those that do not would become 'churches in association' without decision-making status in the Communion, the world's third largest body of churches.
Conservatives hailed the archbishop's move as an affirmation that the American church stepped outside the bounds of Christian orthodoxy when it ordained a gay bishop three years ago.
The archbishop wrote, 'No member church can make significant decisions unilaterally and still expect this to make no difference to how it is regarded in the fellowship.'
Leaders of the Episcopal Church — the Communion's American province, long dominated by theological liberals — sought to play down the statement's import, saying it was just one more exchange in a long dialogue they expected to continue within the Communion."
This may be inevitable, but it is anti-Anglican if a shared "theological covenant" is required. The Anglican church has always been non-creedal. I hope the Episcopal Church stands up to the bullying from other vocal quarters of the world.
Sunday, June 25, 2006
C&L: Feingold Doesn’t Support Lieberman — Hammers Bush/Cheney
Crooks and Liars has the video from MTP: "Senator Feingold was at his best this morning in an interview with Tim Russert on NBC Meet the Press."
Check out the quotes and video.
U.S. General in Iraq Outlines Troop Cuts - New York Times
U.S. General in Iraq Outlines Troop Cuts - New York Times: "The top American commander in Iraq has drafted a plan that projects sharp reductions in the United States military presence there by the end of 2007, with the first cuts coming this September, American officials say.
According to a classified briefing at the Pentagon this week by the commander, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the number of American combat brigades in Iraq is projected to decrease to 5 or 6 from the current level of 14 by December 2007.
Under the plan, the first reductions would involve two combat brigades that would rotate out of Iraq in September without being replaced. Military officials do not typically characterize reductions by total troop numbers, but rather by brigades. Combat brigades, which generally have about 3,500 troops, do not make up the bulk of the 127,000-member American force in Iraq, and other kinds of units would not be pulled out as quickly.
American officials emphasized that any withdrawals would depend on continued progress, including the development of competent Iraqi security forces, a reduction in Sunni Arab hostility toward the new Iraqi government and the assumption that the insurgency will not expand beyond Iraq's six central provinces. Even so, the projected troop withdrawals in 2007 are more significant than many experts had expected.
General Casey's briefing has remained a closely held secret, and it was described by American officials who agreed to discuss the details only on condition of anonymity. Word of the plan comes after a week in which the American troop presence in Iraq was stridently debated in Congress, with Democratic initiatives to force troop withdrawals defeated in the Senate."
This is good news, but I thought we weren't going to plan to cut and run?
Saturday, June 24, 2006
Iraq Govt. Plan Calls for U.S. Withdrawal Timetable - Newsweek
Iraq Govt. Plan Calls for U.S. Withdrawal Timetable - Newsweek : "A timetable for withdrawal of occupation troops from Iraq. Amnesty for all insurgents who attacked U.S. and Iraqi military targets. Release of all security detainees from U.S. and Iraqi prisons. Compensation for victims of coalition military operations.
Those sound like the demands of some of the insurgents themselves, and in fact they are. But they're also key clauses of a national reconciliation plan drafted by new Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who will unveil it Sunday. The provisions will spark sharp debate in Iraq—but the fiercest opposition is likely to come from Washington, which has opposed any talk of timetables, or of amnesty for insurgents who have attacked American soldiers.
But in Iraq, even a senior military official in the U.S.-led coalition said Friday that the coalition might consider a timetable under certain circumstances. And the official was careful to point out that a distinction needs to be made between terrorists and the resistance."
Friday, June 23, 2006
Bank Data Secretly Reviewed by U.S. to Fight Terror - New York Times
Phone records, now bank/financial data--what next?: "Under a secret Bush administration program initiated weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, counterterrorism officials have gained access to financial records from a vast international database and examined banking transactions involving thousands of Americans and others in the United States, according to government and industry officials.
The program is limited, government officials say, to tracing transactions of people suspected of ties to Al Qaeda by reviewing records from the nerve center of the global banking industry, a Belgian cooperative that routes about $6 trillion daily between banks, brokerages, stock exchanges and other institutions. The records mostly involve wire transfers and other methods of moving money overseas or into and out of the United States. Most routine financial transactions confined to this country are not in the database."
AP: Did Negroponte play politics with outdated WMD "news"?
New intel report reignites Iraq arms fight: "Hundreds of chemical weapons found in Iraq were produced before the 1991 Gulf War and probably are so old they couldn't be used as designed, intelligence officials said Thursday.
Two lawmakers — Sen. Rick Santorum (news, bio, voting record), R-Pa., and House Intelligence Chairman Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich. — on Wednesday circulated a one-page summary of a military intelligence report that says coalition forces have recovered about 500 munitions with mustard or sarin agents, and more could be discovered around Iraq. 'We now have found stockpiles,' Santorum asserted.
But intelligence officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the subject's sensitive nature, said the weapons were produced before the 1991 Gulf War and there is no evidence to date of chemical munitions manufactured since then. They said an assessment of the weapons concluded they are so degraded that they couldn't now be used as designed.
They probably would have been intended for chemical attacks during the Iran-Iraq War, said David Kay, who headed the U.S. weapons-hunting team in Iraq from 2003 until early 2004.
He said experts on Iraq's chemical weapons are in 'almost 100 percent agreement' that sarin nerve agent produced from the 1980s would no longer be dangerous.
'It is less toxic than most things that Americans have under their kitchen sink at this point,' Kay said.
And any of Iraq's 1980s-era mustard would produce burns, but it is unlikely to be lethal, Kay said.
Asked about the potential danger to U.S. troops, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said: 'They are weapons of mass destruction. They are harmful to human beings. And they have been found.'
The newly declassified military intelligence report was released Wednesday by National Intelligence Director John Negroponte. Santorum and Hoekstra had urged him to release report this week during congressional debates on Iraq.
The senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee questioned the timing of the report's release. 'What worries me is that the intelligence community — Ambassador Negroponte in particular — may be playing a partisan role in the 2006 election,' California Rep. Jane Harman (news, bio, voting record) said."
A Look at Republican Priorities: Afflicting the Afflicted - New York Times
Meanwhile...: "At the same time that Republicans are fighting to exempt the richest estates from taxes, they are blocking a raise for the nation's poorest workers."
We live in an upside down world.
A Look at Republican Priorities: Comforting the Comfortable - New York Times
A Look at Republican Priorities: Comforting the Comfortable - New York Times: "Two weeks ago, the Senate killed an effort to repeal the federal estate tax on multimillion-dollar fortunes. The 'no' votes were a stand for budget sanity and basic fairness. But the pro-repeal camp doesn't want to take no for an answer.
Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed an estate-tax cut that is a repeal in everything but name. The so-called compromise would exempt more than 99.5 percent of estates from tax, slash the tax rates on the rest and cost at least $760 billion during its first full decade. Of that, $600 billion is the amount the government would have to borrow to make up for lost revenue from the cuts, which would benefit the heirs of America's wealthiest families, like the Marses of Mars bar and the Waltons of Wal-Mart Stores. The remaining $160 billion is the interest on that borrowing, which would be paid by all Americans.
No lawmaker who voted for the compromise gets any points for moderation. Like the earlier full repeal bill, this one is unfair and grounded in intellectual dishonesty. The goal is not to pass good legislation, but to get this top priority for big-shot constituents nailed into law before the November elections produce a legislature that's more responsible on fiscal matters."
There's more about more tax cuts for the wealthy. They're shameless.
Senate Report Lists Lobbyist's Payments to Ex-Leader of Christian Coalition - New York Times
Yet Ralph Reed's campaign claims this is a vindication for him!: "A bipartisan Senate report released on Thursday documented more than $5.3 million in payments to Ralph Reed, the former director of the Christian Coalition and a leading Republican Party strategist, from an influence-peddling operation run by the corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff on behalf of Indian tribe casinos.
The report by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee portrayed Mr. Reed, now a candidate for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor in his home state of Georgia, as a central figure in Mr. Abramoff's lobbying operation, the focus of a criminal investigation by the Justice Department.
Mr. Reed was depicted as having used his contacts among conservative Christian groups in the South and Southwest beginning in the late 1990's to block the opening or expansion of casinos that might compete with the gambling operations of Mr. Abramoff's clients.
Mr. Abramoff and his former partner, Michael Scanlon, have pleaded guilty to conspiring to corrupt public officials and bilking some Indian tribe clients out of tens of millions of dollars. They are cooperating with a federal grand-jury investigation that is threatening to derail the careers of several members of Congress.
There has been no suggestion by prosecutors that Mr. Reed is under special scrutiny by the grand jury.
Mr. Reed's name was invoked repeatedly this month at the trial of David H. Safavian, a former White House aide who was convicted of lying to investigators about a 2002 golf trip to Scotland with Mr. Abramoff, Mr. Reed and Representative Bob Ney, Republican of Ohio.
In a statement issued through his campaign office in response to the report, Mr. Reed portrayed the report as a vindication. He said that while 'it is now clear with the benefit of hindsight that this is a piece of business I should have declined,' the report 'confirms that I have not been accused of any wrongdoing.'"
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Military Charges 8 With Murder of Iraqi - New York Times
Military Charges 8 With Murder of Iraqi - New York Times: "Seven marines and a Navy corpsman were charged today with murder, kidnapping and conspiracy in connection with the shooting death of an Iraqi civilian in April.
The men, all members of the Third Battalion of the Fifth Marine Regiment, have been confined to the brig here at Camp Pendleton since May, when a preliminary inquiry concluded that there was enough evidence to warrant a criminal investigation.
Officials here disclosed little information about the case itself. But earlier this month, Marine officials and members of Congress who had been briefed on the case said the eight men appeared to have dragged a 52-year-old Iraqi man from his house in the town of Hamdaniya, west of Baghdad, on April 26, and shot him without provocation.
They said the marines had then placed a shovel and bomb components near the man's body to make it seem that he had been digging a hole for a roadside explosive, and also placed an AK-47 near his body."
Spreading Democracy and peace.
House Delays Renewal of Voting Rights Act - New York Times
House Delays Renewal of Voting Rights Act - New York Times: "House Republican leaders today abruptly canceled a planned vote to renew the Voting Rights Act after a rank-and-file rebellion by lawmakers who say the civil rights measure unfairly singles out Southern states and promotes multi-lingual ballots.
The reversal represented a significant embarrassment for the party leadership, which has promised a vote on the landmark anti-discrimination law and hailed its imminent approval in a rare bipartisan press event on the steps of the Capitol last month.
But lawmakers critical of the bill mutinied in a closed meeting of House Republicans this morning just hours before the vote was expected to occur and several said it was uncertain whether a majority of Republicans would back the legislation at this point.
'A lot of it looks as if these are some old boys from the South who are trying to do away with it,' said Representative Lynn A. Westmoreland of Georgia, who said it would be unfair to keep Georgia under the confines of the law when his state has cleaned up its voting rights record. 'But these old boys are trying to make it Constitutional enough that it will withstand the scrutiny of the Supreme Court.'"
Thanks to two hard-right Georgia Reps, justice falters. Lynn Westmoreland--who was revealed as an idiot last week on the Colbert Report--is the mastermind behind this delaying tactic.
TP: Santorum's WMD claims debunked by DOD
Think Progress � Defense Department Disavows Santorum’s WMD Claims: "Today, Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) held a press conference and announced “we have found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.” Santorum and Hoekstra are hyping a document that describes degraded, pre-1991 munitions that were already acknowledged by the White House’s Iraq Survey Group and dismissed.
Fox News’ Jim Angle contacted the Defense Department who quickly disavowed Santorum and Hoekstra’s claims. A Defense Department official told Angle flatly that the munitions hyped by Santorum and Hoekstra are “not the WMD’s for which this country went to war.”"
TP has the video of Fox's Alan Combs confronting Santorum with this revelation.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
AMERICAblog: Bush caught defacing flag!
AMERICAblog has the proof: "A US embassy staffer in Vienna writes AMERICAblog and says he did. Reportedly, a slew of conservative Republican Bush supporters wanted to get Bush's autograph on US flags. And Bush signed them. Right on the flags. Kind of ironic right before Senate Republicans force us to debate 'flag burning,' again, simply because they have no more ideas left."
Monday, June 19, 2006
The PB-Elect's Press Conference
From Episcopal News Service. I like her answers:
[ENS] Presiding Bishop-elect Katharine Jefferts Schori's vision to lead the Episcopal Church comes straight out of the prophet Isaiah's vision of the reign of God and includes such United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as eradicating poverty and hunger.
"The poor are fed, the good news is preached, those who are ostracized and in prison are set free, the blind receive sight," Jefferts Schori said June 18 during her first news conference after her election.
The Presiding Bishop-elect fielded questions on topics as wide-ranging as creationism, human sexuality, her call to the priesthood and why she became an airplane pilot.
Elected to the 2.4 million member church's top post on Father's Day, Jefferts Schori said she became a pilot after her father promised her flying lessons if she completed college. "I flew as recently as last Saturday ... a Cessna 172," she said.
She drew upon her experiences as an oceanographer when asked how she'd reconcile with those who oppose her ordination and episcopate. While researching the living habits of worms, squid, octopus and shrimp 30 years ago, "a cruise captain wouldn't talk to me because I was a woman," she recalled. "That lasted about 15 minutes. We got over it."
"My training as a scientist has given me the gift of looking at the world carefully, and investigating. I take delight in the incredible diversity of creation, delighting in the view from several thousand feet above the earth."
When a reporter asked how the "average Anglican who is a black woman under 30, earns two dollars a day and is evangelical," might react to news of her consecration and to her consent to Gene Robinson's consecration, she responded: "If the average Anglican is as you describe, she is dealing with hunger, inadequate housing, unclean water and unavailability of education. Those are the places I would start. The issue of sexuality comes along much higher on the hierarchy of needs."
About creationism and evolution, she said: "Evolution most definitely should be taught in school. It's a well-tested premise and the best model that fits the data available. Creationism can't make that claim. I believe in the creeds. They say God created the world, but they don't say how."
About homosexuality, she said: "I believe that God welcomes all to his table, those who agree and those who disagree. The Episcopal Church always has been a strong voice for including a variety of opinions; the marginalized are welcomed at the table."
Episcopalians elect their first female leader | ajc.com
Episcopalians elect their first female leader--more on the story from AJC: "Only three of 38 Anglican provinces — the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia; Canada; and the United States — have women bishops. Nine do not allow women to be ordained as priests, according to the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass.
The U.S. church voted to allow the ordination of women in 1976 after a bitter fight.
Conservative U.S. church leaders immediately warned that Jefferts Schori's election would further alienate provinces abroad.
'I'm in total shock,' said the Rev. David Roseberry, rector of Christ Church in Plano, Texas, and critic of the 2003 Robinson decision. Roseberry said he doesn't know how Schori is going to build bridges to the rest of the communion when leaders were looking for the church to 'pull back from this liberal agenda.'
'I'm elated,' said R.P. M. Bowden, a member of St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Atlanta. 'Some of us have been fighting for the rights of women for years. Some of our dioceses don't even have women [priests]. But I believe all of God's children should have the same opportunities.'
Karla Woggon, a deputy from Washington, D.C., said the church's decision to be inclusive is more important than placating communion leaders overseas."
Sunday, June 18, 2006
AP: Episcopal Shocker: "Most Liberal" of Candidates, and a Woman, Elected New Presiding Bishop
I was pulling for the local bishop here, who is wonderful, but this is good news--it will really make the rest of the Anglican world mad at us: "Nevada Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori became the first woman elected to lead a church in the global Anglican Communion when she was picked Sunday to be the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church. It was another groundbreaking and controversial move for a denomination that consecrated Anglicanism's first openly gay bishop just three years ago.
Standing before cheering delegates to Episcopal General Convention, Jefferts Schori said she was 'awed and honored and deeply privileged to be elected.' Outgoing Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold was at her side as she was introduced after closed-door balloting.
The choice of Jefferts Schori may worsen - and could even splinter - the already difficult relations between the American denomination and its fellow Anglicans. Episcopalians have been sparring with many in the other 37 Anglican provinces over homosexuality, but a female leader adds a new layer of complexity to the already troubled relationship.
Only two other Anglican provinces - New Zealand and Canada - have female bishops, although a handful of other provinces allow women to serve in the post.
Still, there are many Anglican leaders who believe women should not even be priests. Those opposed to female clergy often cite the unbroken tradition of male priesthood in the Roman Catholic and Orthodox traditions, and in the Anglican Communion until about 30 years ago.
At the General Convention where Jefferts Schori was elected, delegates have been debating whether to appease Anglican leaders by agreeing to temporarily stop ordaining gay bishops."
Friday, June 16, 2006
Thursday, June 15, 2006
C&L: Colbert scorches Georgia GOP Rep
Crooks and Liars has the video: "Only on The Colbert Report: Westmoreland co-sponsors bill on the Ten Commandments and can't even name them." Ah, that's my state for you!
AMERICAblog: The odd GOP logic regarding amnesty
AMERICAblog: John's friend provides a compilation of GOP Senators regarding the proposed Iraqi amnesty for terrorists: "Funny, we simply 'must' punish 'law-breakers' when they're Mexican immigrants because 'it would send a bad message' showing law-breakers any mercy. But when the law-breakers are reputed Al Qaeda terrorists who have murdered American soldiers, suddenly the Republican party becomes all warm and fuzzy. So the message for Mexicans seeking amnesty is what? Go to Iraq and pick up a gun first?"
Trillin: The trials of a deadline poet
I enjoy Calvin Trillin's pieces in The Nation and heard him the other day with Al Franken...and today he pens an op-ed for the NYT on his unique craft: "My excitement at the news that Senator Chris Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut, is considering a bid for president in 2008 is easy to explain: his name has enormous rhyming potential. We all have our own issues.
Rhyme is not my only one; I am also intensely interested in meter. I happen to be a deadline poet, responsible for commenting on the events of the day in verse. Someone in my position tends to see Ross Perot and John McCain as two peas in a pod — blessedly iambic candidates with nearly unlimited rhyming possibilities. During my 16 years in the deadline poetry game, though, we've had nobody with a name like Ross Perot or John McCain in the White House. I've had to deal with presidents whose names are an affront to rhyme and meter. Given the rhyming difficulties of Bill Clinton's name, in fact, I believe future historians will think of him as the 'orange' of American presidents."
NYT Editorial: Administration plays fast and loose with judicial and legislative branches
A Leap of Faith, Off a Cliff - New York Times: "On Monday, the Bush administration told a judge in Detroit that the president's warrantless domestic spying is legal and constitutional, but refused to say why. The judge should just take his word for it, the lawyer said, because merely talking about it would endanger America. Today, Senator Arlen Specter wants his Judiciary Committee to take an even more outlandish leap of faith for an administration that has shown it does not deserve it.
Mr. Specter wants the committee to approve a bill he drafted that tinkers dangerously with the rules on wiretapping, even though the president has said the law doesn't apply to him anyway, and even though Mr. Specter and most of the panel are just as much in the dark as that judge in Detroit. The bill could well diminish the power of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, known as FISA, which was passed in 1978 to prevent just the sort of abuse that Mr. Bush's program represents."
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
IHT: World opinion of US falls again
Image of U.S. falls again - Americas - International Herald Tribune: "As the war in Iraq continues for a fourth year, the global image of America has slipped further, even among publics in countries closely allied with the United States, a new global opinion poll has found.
Favorable views of the United States dropped sharply over the past year in Spain, where only 23 percent now say they have a positive opinion, down from 41 percent in 2005, according to the survey, which was carried out in 15 nations this spring by the Pew Research Center. In Britain, Washington's closest ally in the Iraq war, positive views of America have remained in the mid-50s in the past two years, still down sharply from 75 percent in 2002.
Other countries where positive views dropped significantly include India (56 percent, down from 71 percent since 2005); Russia (43 percent, down from 52 percent); and Indonesia (30 percent, down from 38 percent).
In Turkey, a NATO ally of the United States, only 12 percent said they held a favorable opinion, down from 23 percent last year."
AP Analysis: Telling FBI the truth saved Rove
AP has a rather scathing analysis of Rove's getting off the hook: "The decision not to charge Karl Rove shows there often are no consequences for misleading the public.
In 2003, while Rove allowed the White House to tell the news media that he had no role in leaking Valerie Plame's CIA identity, the presidential aide was secretly telling the FBI the truth.
It's now known that Rove had discussed Plame's CIA employment with conservative columnist Robert Novak, who exposed her identity less than a week later, citing two unidentified senior administration officials.
Rove's truth-telling to the FBI saved him from indictment.
And by misleading reporters, the White House saved itself from a political liability during the 2004 presidential campaign.
Daily Kos: PBS Frontline takes on CheneyCo.
Daily Kos has the diary...set the TiVo: "PBS's Frontline has turned its lens to Dick Cheney. The result will premiere on June 20th. The program's title?: 'The Dark Side.' (I couldn't have chosen better!)
It's actually a reference to a comment Cheney made that much of the fighting on the war on terror would occur on the dark side, under the public radar.
Judging from the press release, which I will c p below, the show will cover such topics as the stovepiping and general manipulation of prewar intelligence, the Cheney/Rumsfeld cabal, Tenet's role in all this, and the battle between the CIA and the V.P."
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Rove Won't Be Charged in C.I.A. Leak Case - New York Times
Merry Fitzmas? Bah, Humbug!: "The prosecutor in the C.I.A. leak case on Monday advised Karl Rove, the senior White House adviser, that he would not be charged with any wrongdoing, effectively ending the nearly three-year criminal investigation that had at times focused intensely on Mr. Rove.
The decision by the prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, announced in a letter to Mr. Rove's lawyer, Robert D. Luskin, lifted a pall that had hung over Mr. Rove who testified on five occasions to a federal grand jury about his involvement in the disclosure of an intelligence officer's identity.
In a statement, Mr. Luskin said, 'On June 12, 2006, Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald formally advised us that he does not anticipate seeking charges against Karl Rove.'
Mr. Fitzgerald's spokesman, Randall Samborn, said he would not comment on Mr. Rove's status.
For months Mr. Fitzgerald's investigation appeared to threaten Mr. Rove's standing as Mr. Bush's closest political adviser as the prosecutor riveted his focus on whether Mr. Rove tried to intentionally conceal a conversation he had with a Time magazine reporter in the week before the name of intelligence officer, Valerie Plame Wilson, became public."
CBS: Poll says Zarqawi death doesn't change anything
Poll: Zarqawi Death Has Little Impact, Most Americans Still Say War's Going Badly; Bush's Ratings Remain Low - CBS News: "The death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has done little to improve views of how things are going for the U.S. in Iraq or boost President Bush's approval ratings, a CBS News poll finds.
Mr. Bush has been cautious in his response to Zarqawi's killing by U.S. troops this week, calling it 'a major blow to al Qaeda' but warning that it won't end the war 'and it's certainly not going to end the violence.'
Americans agree. Half think the level of violence in Iraq will be unchanged by Zarqawi's death, while 30 percent say it will actually lead to more attacks against U.S. forces. Just 16 percent think the number of attacks will decrease as a result of his death.
Sixty-one percent also say Zarqawi's death won't have any impact on the terrorist threat against the United States, while 22 percent it will increase that threat. Thirteen percent predict a decreased risk of terrorism. "
Monday, June 12, 2006
Sunday, June 11, 2006
Made me laugh
Thursday, June 08, 2006
HuffPo - Kennedy vs. Manjoo, the debate continues on the "stolen election"
Eat The Press | Robert Kennedy and Farhad Manjoo: Was The 2004 Election Stolen? | The Huffington Post: "Salon's Farhad Manjoo challenges Robert Kennedy on his Rolling Stone article, 'Was The 2004 Election Stolen?' Manjoo says 'No' based on his finding of 'numerous errors of interpretation and his deliberate omission of key bits of data. ' Robert Kennedy responds, addressing Manjoo's points and gently chiding him for committing 'precisely the sins of omission and distortion that he accuses me of having perpetrated.' Salon Editor-in-Chief Joan Walsh weighs in to answer critics (many), and assure readers that Manjoo and Salon are not, in fact, evil pawns of Karl Rove. Impartial summation at Digby: 'It is a seriously open question as to what actually happened in Ohio in 2004.... What is beyond dispute either by Kennedy or Manjoo [is that] what happened in Ohio (if not elsewhere) stinks to high heaven.'"
C&L: Olbermann slams shamless Coulter
Crooks and Liars has the video: "Olbermann: Honestly, if you were Ann Coulter's attorney at a sanity hearing where could you possibly start? Our #2 story on the Countdown, eclipsing even Bill O'Reilly and Malmedy, the Connecticut Screech has continued her assault on 9/11 widows. After calling them 'witches who acted as if the terrorist attacks happened only to them' she has now told Reuters news that they are, quote, 'professional victims.' All as part of the promotion of a book in which she claims *liberals* are, quote, 'godless.'"
BBC NEWS: Zarqawi killed in Iraq air raid
BBC NEWS reports on the apparent death of the Sunni insurgency leader--now what?: "Militant leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has been killed, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has announced.
'We have eliminated Zarqawi,' Mr Maliki said at a news conference, sparking sustained applause. The US said he was killed in an air raid near Baquba.
The Jordanian-born leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq was considered the figurehead of the Sunni insurgency.
Al-Qaeda in Iraq has been blamed for hundreds of bombings that have killed thousands of Shias and US forces.
Analysts warned that his death did not mean the insurgency in Iraq would subside - and that there might even be an explosion of revenge by his followers."
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
An interesting quote on Justice
From the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church website, ngumc.org, via the St. Mark UMC e-newsletter:
The Bible teaches us that God’s justice flows with the same intention and aim of the compelling nature of moving water. The prophet Amos reminds us that we must be concerned with justice and holiness and care for the poor and oppressed. He beautifully states that when we do these things, God’s justice rolls throughout the land like a river, and God’s righteousness flows like a never failing stream.
It is interesting to see that throughout the Bible, the waters of justice aren’t compared to a gentle babbling brook. No, they are described as an intense current that overtakes injustice and inequality. Justice is powerful and commanding—yet cleansing and pure. In this context, we find that justice is a type of release or rescue that repairs the obvious social inequities that our deprived brothers and sisters face.
We have been called by God to act with this same attitude of vigorous and enthusiastic justice. It is an important call. When we as Christians expand our imagination and our energy toward advocacy; when we work to remove the discrimination that is built into our social, political, economic, and religious systems; and when we find new and effective ways to take up the cause of the powerless, then we find that justice rolls through the land like waters, and righteousness travels like an ever flowing river.
Our gracious God longs for us to be advocates for this type of fairness, equality, and integrity. Daily, we are faced with the choice to either thrust open the flood gates enabling God’s justice to bring hope into a unjust world or hold justice back like a stagnate pool of water. Micah helps us meet this daily struggle by reminding us of our hefty call from God to act with, and seek out, justice.... let us remember that, though the flood gates of justice may be heavy, God calls us to open them wider to bring help and hope to a hurting world.
Vanity Fair: Proof that the Niger yellowcake lie was cooked up by the White House?
VANITY FAIR : FEATURES : CONTENT: "The Bush administration invaded Iraq claiming Saddam Hussein had tried to buy yellowcake uranium in Niger. As much of Washington knew, and the world soon learned, the charge was false. Worse, it appears to have been the cornerstone of a highly successful 'black propaganda' campaign with links to the White House"
C&L: Jon Stewart hammers Bill Bennett on gay marriage
Crooks and Liars has the video--check it out.
I'm surprised that nobody has raised the point--when opponents of gay marriage bring up the slippery-slope polygamy issue--that polygamy is biblical. Some of the most important figures in the Bible were polygamists--including David, Solomon, Abraham...
NYT: So close...
Republican Wins Calif. House Race - New York Times: "A former Republican congressman narrowly beat his Democratic rival early Wednesday for the right to fill the House seat once held by jailed Randy ''Duke'' Cunningham, a race closely watched as a possible early barometer of next fall's vote.
Republican Brian Bilbray emerged victorious after a costly and contentious special election race against Democrat Francine Busby, a local school board member.
With 90 percent of precincts reporting, Bilbray had 56,130 votes, or 50 percent. Busby trailed with 51,292 votes, or 45 percent. ''I think that we're going back to Washington,'' Bilbray told cheering supporters.
The race -- one of dozens of contests Tuesday in eight states -- was viewed by Democrats as an opportunity to capture a solidly Republican district and build momentum on their hopes to capture control of the House."
Monday, June 05, 2006
BATCOTE: More notes on the Gay Marriage pandering
Born at the Crest of the Empire: Mike has a good assortment of links from today's brouhaha, including press secy Tony Snow calling it a "civil rights" issue...huh?: "First, let me say how pleased I am that almost every report on this gay-baiting disgrace is making note of the fact that it is merely a political ploy and has no chance of passing. The recognition that this is just political posturing for votes is such an improvement on the unskeptical 2004 coverage. Also, a lot of the articles contain quotes from 'the base' agreeing that the Republicans are blowing election year smoke. "
Can Gay Marriage Help GOP? - Newsweek
Can Gay Marriage Help GOP? Newsweek article indicates Bush may simply be pissing everybody off with his speech today: "Though Bush himself has publicly embraced the amendment, he never seemed to care enough to press the matter. One of his old friends told NEWSWEEK that same-sex marriage barely registers on the president's moral radar. 'I think it was purely political. I don't think he gives a s--t about it. He never talks about this stuff,' said the friend, who requested anonymity to discuss his private conversations with Bush. White House aides, who also declined to be identified, insist that the president does care about banning gay marriage. They say Monday's events with amendment supporters—Bush will also meet privately with a small group—have been in the works 'for weeks' and aren't just a sop to conservatives.
Whatever Bush's motivation, his actions aren't likely to quiet his critics. Land says he's happy Bush is speaking out, but he'd like to see signs of real commitment to the issue. 'We know what a full-court press looks like when we see one,' Land says. A White House official, who declined to be identified discussing strategy, says Bush has not made calls on the amendment because 'nobody has asked us.'
Whatever the political maneuvering, it's the courts that could make the next move. Last week New York's highest court heard arguments that the state must allow gay couples to wed. A similar case in New Jersey was argued in February. Decisions could come later this summer. At the same time, judges recently struck down 2004 bans from Georgia, Ohio and Nebraska. 'It's just a matter of time before the other shoe falls,' says Family Research Council president Tony Perkins. 'This is not an issue you can take a pass on.' For politicians and activists, that may be true. But average voters might do exactly that."
Sunday, June 04, 2006
LATimes: Look! Up in the sky ... It's Al Gore!
Los Angeles Times had an op-ed by a one-time writer of Superman comics: "WHEN MY daughter Sarah was in utero, all we knew of her was a sonogram that we brought home from the gynecologist. I framed that photo and labeled it with the name 'Jor-El.' In our family, we generally name our kids after deceased relatives whom we want to honor. Jor-El seemed a good candidate.
At the time, I was writing Superman comics, and Sarah's onetime namesake, you will recall, is Superman's Kryptonian father, an eminent scientist whom the ruling 'Science Council' of his world laughed out of the room when he told them that they were facing a planetary crisis: 'Gentlemen, Krypton is doomed.'
I have often thought that doctors and scientists, trained to concern themselves with truth and human values, would be more suitable candidates to set public policy than those schooled in law, economics and management who commonly populate our public servants' talent pool.
But on Krypton, either the essential nature of scientists diverged from that of the open-minded and collaborative types with whom we are familiar here on Earth, or generations of 'scientific' rule had befouled the Kryptonian leaders to the degree that they became as shortsighted and starchy as those who traditionally administer our own public affairs.
Like the Science Council, our leaders reacted with guffaws when one of our own rose to sound an earthshaking alarm. As a professional fabulist, by contrast, my reaction to Al Gore's 1992 book, 'Earth in the Balance,' was one of enormous excitement. It had pathos and drama, and extraordinary ideas expressed clearly and simply: a proposal for a new paradigm for the relationship between humanity and the planet.
Now comes 'An Inconvenient Truth,' with Al Gore as Jor-El. Fire up the popcorn."
AMERICAblog: Good point from John
AMERICAblog: Bush and gay marriage: "Bush says courts shouldn't be permitted to decide who can marry who. That's exactly what happened in Loving v. Virginia, and the public was NOT happy about it. So, rather than pull some cute argument about how blacks aren't like gays, Bush needs to tell us directly - if the courts aren't empowered to decide who can marry whom, then is the Loving v. VA decision wrong since an activist court overruled the will of the people?"
Rich: Supporting our troops over a cliff
The Raw Story has some excerpts from Rich's column: "Americans should feel 'guilty' because the Bush Administration 'has asked no sacrifice of civilians other than longer waits at airline security,' while our troops go to war in Iraq so 'we can party on,' writes Frank Rich in his column slated for the Sunday edition of The New York Times....
'For all the politicians' talk about honoring those who serve, Washington's record is derelict: chronic shortages in body and Humvee armor; a back-door draft forcing troops with expired contracts into repeated deployments; inadequate postwar health care and veterans' benefits,' Rich writes. 'And that's just the short list.'
Rich also slams President Bush's campaign for a federal marriage amendment while the war drags on ('...we are planning an indefinite stay of undefined parameters,' according to Rich).
'Though the amendment has no chance of passing, Bush apparently still thinks, as he did in 2004, that gay-baiting remains just the diversion to distract from a war gone south,' Rich writes."
Saturday, June 03, 2006
Daily Kos: The party of "family values" is full of perverts
Daily Kos: Even More GOPerversion...: "The Republicn facade of 'moral values' has certainly served to camouflage rampant corruption and hypocrisy within their ranks. Most of all, however, it almost entirely masks the disturbing sexual fixation, the subsequent degeneracy and even debauchery which taints many of their private lives."
All the details in this diary will certainly not stop the Rose Garden announcement Monday by President Bush in favor of the federal marriage bigotry amendment.
Drudge: "This Week" beating Russert and Shieffer
DRUDGE REPORT FLASH: I don't usually cite Drudge, but I like George and know his mother. Go George!: "According to Nielsen Media Research for Sunday May 28, 2006, ABC News “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” was #1 for the second consecutive week in Adults 25-54, again outperforming both NBC’s “Meet the Press” and CBS’s “Face the Nation,” and despite being rescheduled in 17 markets due to ABC’s Indy 500 programming. Last Sunday was also the first time in ten years that “This Week” has outperformed the competition -with full coverage - and placed #1 in the demo two weeks in a row.
Compared to the same week a year ago, “This Week” grew 16% with 950,000 (.8 rtg.) Adult 25-54 viewers, bringing the program to its largest lead over “Face” since March 2003 and over “Meet” (with full coverage) since August 1999. CBS, in comparison, dropped 16% with 760,000 (.6 rtg.) Adults 25-54, while NBC declined 20% to 830,000 (.7 rtg.). Fourth place Fox News Sunday posted 550,000 (.4 rtg.) Adults 25-54.
In Total Viewers, “This Week” posted 2.43 million for second place – a growth of 12% since last year - outperforming “Face the Nation’s” 2.39 million (-9% compared to the same week last year) for the second consecutive week. This was “This Week’s” widest lead over “Face” (40,000) since last July. NBC’s “Meet the Press” posted 3.02 million viewers, a growth of 19% compared to the same week last year, and Fox News Sunday declined 14% with 1.13 million Total Viewers. "
Friday, June 02, 2006
Iraqi Accuses U.S. of 'Daily' Attacks Against Civilians - New York Times
This can't be good: "Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki lashed out at the American military on Thursday, denouncing what he characterized as habitual attacks by troops against Iraqi civilians.
As outrage over reports that American marines killed 24 Iraqis in the town of Haditha last year continued to shake the new government, the country's senior leaders said that they would demand that American officials turn over their investigative files on the killings and that the Iraqi government would conduct its own inquiry.
In his comments, Mr. Maliki said violence against civilians had become a 'daily phenomenon' by many troops in the American-led coalition who 'do not respect the Iraqi people.'
'They crush them with their vehicles and kill them just on suspicion,' he said. 'This is completely unacceptable.' Attacks on civilians will play a role in future decisions on how long to ask American forces to remain in Iraq, the prime minister added.
The denunciation was an unusual declaration for a government that remains desperately dependent on American forces to keep some form of order in the country amid a resilient Sunni Arab insurgency in the west, widespread sectarian violence in Baghdad, and deadly feuding among Shiite militias that increasingly control the south."
The situation seems to be spinning out of control, and it can only mean more trouble for the US Troops...
AMERICAblog: AP continues to lie to cover up its lies
AMERICAblog: John has the latest, from TPM and elsewhere: "The Associated Press is melting down. They've apparently issued some kind of statement to respond to all the criticism they've received for outright lying, making unsubstantiated accusations, and intentionally misleading readers in repeated stories about Senator Harry Reid. And their statement, according to Talking Points Memo's Josh Marshall, is again a lie and inaccurate.
Josh has more. And TPM Muckraker will be going through the entire AP statement tomorrow. But it seems that the AP statement was written by someone who hadn't even read the criticism and didn't even understand the underlying facts of the story. It's simply bizarre.
Not to mention, incredibly unprofessional and unethical."
AJC's Cynthia Tucker: On gay unions, pandering rises above principles
On gay unions, pandering rises above principles--excellent op-ed by Cynthia Tucker at ajc.com: "Doing the right thing is difficult because it often means losing. And the typical politician is willing to lose anything — honor, integrity, dignity — but an election.
That helps explain why, during this election season, so few politicians have stepped forward to denounce initiatives against gay marriage as the cynical and opportunistic tactics that they are. They know that playing on prejudice and fear can rally a certain constituency and provide the winning margin in tight races.
It certainly worked two years ago. Republican tacticians maneuvered to add amendments against gay marriage to the ballots in 11 states, including Georgia. The result was to lure religious conservatives to the polls in large numbers, probably giving President Bush the boost he needed in the battleground state of Ohio.
This year, conservative Republicans — struggling against voter discontent over Iraq, health care and high gas prices, among other things — are desperate to bring those religious conservatives back to the polls. So they've resurrected the same tired tactic. Next month, the Senate is expected to vote on an amendment to the U.S. Constitution banning same-sex unions.
Senate leaders haven't made much of an effort to disguise the initiative as anything other than the base political ploy that it is. After a frenzy of gay-bashing during the 2004 campaign season — they thundered against gay marriage as a threat to just about every family tradition, from man-woman marriages to peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches — Republican leaders hadn't even mentioned the issue again. The threat disappeared for two years. Until now, when they're facing the prospect of losing control of Congress."
AJC.com: Interesting take on the Dixie Chicks
Dixie Chicks fly above waves--Jon Sinton, Air America's creator, opines on what's happening in radio, as evidenced by the Dixie Chicks brouhaha: "In its continuing effort to not offend listeners or advertisers, terrestrial radio threw the Dixie Chicks to the curb after Natalie Maines' onstage remarks in 2003 were seen as intemperate. Or maybe they got that treatment because radio executives, listening to all that hype on their right-wing talk stations, actually believed that dissent is unpatriotic and decided it was their job to punish Natalie and her co-conspirator Chicks by boycotting their work. Either way, terrestrial radio is still allergic to the Dixie Chicks, even though their new album debuted this week at No. 1 on Nielsen SoundScan — the record industry's retail tracker — tops the charts at Amazon and is the most-downloaded album on iTunes.
Predictably, you can hear it often on both satellite radio services. I worry about the earthbound stations and their stodgy stewards who by playing it safe may inadvertently hasten the evolution from terrestrial music stations to satellite and ultimately wireless broadband Internet.
The history of the medium is that audience migrates to the service that satisfies them. All the Dixie Chicks wanted to do was express an opinion. They may have started a revolution."
Thursday, June 01, 2006
Daily Kos: AP's Solomon follows Reid smear with ANOTHER Reid smear
Daily Kos: AP's Solomon follows Reid smear with ANOTHER Reid smear. This has been a hot topic in the blogosphere (Joshua at TPM has done a lot of good stuff too)--about the anti-Dem AP reporter John Solomon. Here's a good summary.
Rolling Stone : Was the 2004 Election Stolen?
Rolling Stone : Was the 2004 Election Stolen?: "Republicans prevented more than 350,000 voters in Ohio from casting ballots or having their votes counted -- enough to have put John Kerry in the White House."
Crooks and Liars: Christian themed video game--bizarre
Crooks and Liars has a link to even more about a story you may have heard about--a Christian children's video game full of commandments being broken: "Strap on your seat belts and hold onto your dashboard Jesus, because the story of how this violent, theocratic video game is being network marketed through pastors and churches only gets deeper and stranger from here.
'A top aide to mega-church pastor Rick Warren is advising the makers of a children's video game in which characters kill New Yorkers while shouting 'Praise the Lord.' When children tire of converting or killing New Yorkers, they can switch sides and command the demonic armies of the AntiChrist, and kill the conservative Christians. The real-time strategy game, slated for release in October 2006, is based on the best selling series of Left Behind novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. The web site of Left Behind Games states the involvement of Mark Carver on its Advisory Board. This web-based marketing tool also highlights his role as Executive Director of Mr. Warren's Purpose Driven Church. What appears to be going on here is an old-fashioned business practice called 'endorsement by association.'"
Poll of Voters: Bush Worst President Since World War II
Poll of Voters: E&P has the story: "A new Quinnipiac Poll finds American voters selecting George W. Bush as easily the worst American president in the past 61 years, with fellow Republican Ronald Reagan picked as the best.
Bush was named by 34% of voters, followed by Richard Nixon at 17% and Bill Clinton at 16%, according to the Quinnipiac University national poll of over 1,500 voters released today. Leading the list for best President since 1945 is Ronald Reagan with 28%, and Clinton with 25%.
While Democrats and Republicans split widely on the 'worst' choice, 35% independent voters picked Bush.
FEC finds Frist violated law by failing to disclose $1.4 million personal loan
The Raw Story | FEC finds Frist violated law by failing to disclose $1.4 million personal loan: "CREW's complaint alleged -- and the FEC agreed -- that Frist 2000, Inc. failed to disclose a $1.44 million loan taken out jointly by Frist 2000, Inc. and by Frist's 1994 campaign committee, Bill Frist for Senate, Inc. The result of the discrepancy was to make it appear that Frist 2000, Inc. had significantly more money that it actually had.
In June 2000, Senator Frist took $1 million of the money that had been contributed to his 2000 Senate campaign and invested it in the stock market, where it promptly began losing money. In November 2000, Senator Frist sought to collect $1.2 million he had lent his 1994 Senate campaign committee. As a result of the stock market losses, however, Frist 2000, Inc. did not have enough money to repay the loan. Senator Frist solved this problem by having the 1994 and the 2000 campaign committees jointly take out a $1.44 million bank loan at a cost of $10,000 a month interest. Frist 2000, Inc. did not report this debt on its FEC disclosure forms.
The Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) requires full disclosure of any loans taken out by campaign committees. Yet only the 1994 campaign committee, which had been largely dormant, disclosed the loan."
BBC: New 'Iraq massacre' tape emerges
BBC NEWS | World | Middle East | New 'Iraq massacre' tape emerges: "The BBC has uncovered new video evidence that US forces may have been responsible for the deliberate killing of 11 innocent Iraqi civilians.
The video appears to challenge the US military's account of events that took place in the town of Ishaqi in March.
The US said at the time four people died during a military operation, but Iraqi police claimed that US troops had deliberately shot the 11 people.
A spokesman for US forces in Iraq told the BBC an inquiry was under way.
The new evidence comes in the wake of the alleged massacre in Haditha, where US marines are suspected of massacring up to 24 Iraqi civilians in November 2005."