Wednesday, January 31, 2007

C&L: Imus on O'Reilly's sales gimmick

Crooks and Liars - Imus on O'Reilly: "Imus: Here's what a disgrace O'Reilly is. Olbermann can't kill him enough. Here's what O'Reilly's doing. You are not going to believe this. This sonofabitch actually went on that falafel thing of his and he said—–if you'll buy a copy of his book—for every copy of his stupid book, he'll send a copy to a soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan. I mean I don't know where to start. That's his contribution to the men and women who are fighting and dying in this idiotic war for this country."

Millions wasted in Iraq rebuilding

Millions wasted in Iraq rebuilding - Conflict in Iraq - "The U.S. government wasted tens of millions of dollars in Iraq reconstruction aid, including scores of unaccounted-for weapons and a never-used camp for housing police trainers with an Olympic-size swimming pool, investigators say.

The quarterly audit by Stuart Bowen Jr., the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, is the latest to paint a grim picture of waste, fraud and frustration in an Iraq war and reconstruction effort that has cost taxpayers more than $300 billion and left the region near civil war."

NYT Op-Ed: Bush Is Not Above the Law

Bush Is Not Above the Law - New York Times op-ed by James Bamford: "Last August, a federal judge found that the president of the United States broke the law, committed a serious felony and violated the Constitution. Had the president been an ordinary citizen — someone charged with bank robbery or income tax evasion — the wheels of justice would have immediately begun to turn. The F.B.I. would have conducted an investigation, a United States attorney’s office would have impaneled a grand jury and charges would have been brought.

But under the Bush Justice Department, no F.B.I. agents were ever dispatched to padlock White House files or knock on doors and no federal prosecutors ever opened a case."

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Global warming report ominous

BREITBART.COM - Global warming report ominous: "Earth's surface temperature could rise by 4.5 C (8.1 F) if carbon dioxide levels double over pre-industrial levels, but higher warming cannot be ruled out, according to a draft report under debate by the UN's top climate experts.

The draft -- being discussed line by line at the four-day meeting of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) -- grimly states that the evidence for man-made influence on the climate system is now stronger than ever.


Bush Directive Increases Sway on Regulation - New York Times

Bush Directive Increases Sway on Regulation - New York Times: "President Bush has signed a directive that gives the White House much greater control over the rules and policy statements that the government develops to protect public health, safety, the environment, civil rights and privacy.

In an executive order published last week in the Federal Register, Mr. Bush said that each agency must have a regulatory policy office run by a political appointee, to supervise the development of rules and documents providing guidance to regulated industries. The White House will thus have a gatekeeper in each agency to analyze the costs and the benefits of new rules and to make sure the agencies carry out the president’s priorities."

C&L: Jon Stewart Rips Apart FNC

Crooks and Liars � Jon Stewart Rips Apart FNC: "You knew it was only a matter of time before The Daily Show weighed in on FOX's Obama smear and boy, was it a doozy." They got the video.

HuffPo: Air America Rescued, but Franken Out

Exclusive: Air America Rescued | The Huffington Post: "Air America Radio, in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings since October, will be rescued at the 11th hour by Manhattan real estate developer Stephen L. Green."

Al Franken announced that he'll leave Feb. 14 to pursue a run for the US Senate. Thom Hartmann will reportedly replace him in the midday slot.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Church study finds diversity, lack of discord boost growth |

Church study finds diversity, lack of discord boost growth | "A major study on church growth discovered that thriving congregations tended to be multiracial, embraced vibrant worship services and avoided major conflict.

The 'FACTs on Growth' report, based on a 2005 survey of 900 congregations and online at /products/index.html, is the culmination of a five-year study that attempts to answer why some congregations grow and others decline.

The findings, recently released by the Hartford Institute for Religion Research, challenge the conventional wisdom that only conservative suburban congregations are growing."

Friday, January 26, 2007

Falsani: Evangelical? Obama's faith too complex for simple label

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES - Cathleen Falsani: Evangelical? Obama's faith too complex for simple label.

While on the presidential campaign trail 30 years ago, someone asked Jimmy Carter a rather indelicate public question:

Are you born again?

Carter said he was. And the next thing he knew, various media creatures were accusing the Southern Baptist peanut farmer of implying that his political aspirations had a divine imprimatur.

"I truthfully answered, 'Yes,' assuming all devout Christians were born again, of the Holy Spirit," Carter wrote in his 2005 book, Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis.

In 1976, most reporters didn't know born-again from over-easy. But times have changed and so has the public conversation about politics and religion. Terms such as "fundamentalist," "evangelical" and "born-again" are part of the media vernacular.

That doesn't mean, however, that such terms are particularly helpful by themselves in describing, much less defining, anyone -- be they politicians, presidential candidates or private citizens.

Perhaps that's why, back when I interviewed Barack Obama about his faith in spring 2004 a few days after he'd won the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, I didn't ask him something I've remained curious about since:

Does he consider himself an evangelical?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

On Faith: John Bryson Chane: Mid-Term Elections Showed Electorate Anger at Misuse of Religion

On Faith: John Bryson Chane: Mid-Term Elections Showed Electorate Anger at Misuse of Religion:

Candidates have used their personal religious views in past presidential campaigns and I see that this election will be no different. Candidates will continue to do so at their own peril however.

For better or worse, such discourse has been at the heart of the American political scene since the beginning of American politics.

But Americans are quite sensitive these days, given the misuse of religion and religious rhetoric and the way it has been exercised by some in the current Administration and in Congress. Using moral imperatives from a narrow Christian perspective in informing legislation and defining public policy has lost traction with many faithful Christians and has been received with anger by a large number of non-Christians.

The most recent mid-term election results are a prism of this sensitivity and anger. Presidential candidates beware!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Alter: A Powerful Response

Alter: A Powerful Response - Newsweek Between the Lines - "Something unprecedented happened tonight, beyond the doorkeeper announcing, 'Madame Speaker.' For the first time ever, the response to the State of the Union Message overshadowed the president's big speech. Virginia Sen. James Webb, in office only three weeks, managed to convey a muscular liberalism—with personal touches—that left President Bush's ordinary address in the dust. In the past, the Democratic response has been anemic—remember Washington Gov. Gary Locke? This time it pointed the way to a revival for national Democrats."

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Clinton’s Announcement Makes Waves in ’08 Field - New York Times

Clinton’s Announcement Makes Waves in ’08 Field - New York Times: "Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s entry into the 2008 presidential contest this morning set off rounds of e-mail and conference calls among both her allies and opponents, some of whom were shaking their heads that a major political event was happening at 9:30 on a Saturday morning."

Friday, January 19, 2007

O'Reilly on Colbert

YouTube - O'Reilly on Colbert

Colbert on O'Reilly's Show

YouTube - Colbert on O'Reilly's Show Mission accomplished in House - CNN Political Ticker: "House Democrats brought their '100-hour' legislative agenda to a successful close Thursday evening with passage of legislation designed to force oil and gas companies to pay more royalties on some offshore leases and end subsidies and tax deductions they have been receiving amid record prices for crude.

The final vote on the bill -- the sixth of six items Democrats had vowed to pass in 100 hours of legislative action -- was 264 to 163, with 36 Republicans crossing the aisle to support the Democrat-sponsored bill.

The House finished work on all six measures in about 42 hours of floor time, less than half the limit set on their self-imposed clock. However, the legislation must still navigate the Senate, which tends to operate at a more leisurely pace, and could also face President Bush's veto pen."

AP: Cheney rejected Iranian concessions in '03

Report: Cheney rejected Iranian concessions in '03 | "An Iranian offer to help the United States stabilize Iraq and end its military support for Hezbollah and Hamas was rejected by Vice President Dick Cheney in 2003, a former top State Department official told the British Broadcasting Corp.

The U.S. State Department was open to the offer, which came in an unsigned letter sent shortly after the American invasion of Iraq, Lawrence Wilkerson, former Secretary of State Colin Powell's chief of staff, told BBC's Newsnight in a program broadcast Wednesday night. But, Wilkerson said, Cheney vetoed the deal.

'We thought it was a very propitious moment' to strike a deal, Wilkerson said. 'But as soon as it got to the White House, and as soon as it got to the vice president's office, the old mantra of 'We don't talk to evil' . . . reasserted itself.'"

Colbert, O'Reilly Face Off on Both Shows | AccessAtlanta

Colbert, O'Reilly Face Off on Both Shows | AccessAtlanta: "'The Colbert Report' and 'The O'Reilly Factor,' the top-rated program in cable news, were taped one after another early Thursday evening, with 'The Factor' airing at 8 p.m. EST and 'The Report' at 11:30 p.m. EST.

Once inside Colbert's studio — decorated for the occasion with a large 'Mission Accomplished' banner and a portrait of O'Reilly placed fireside — O'Reilly seemed to be regretting the decision.

'This was a huge mistake, me coming on here,' he muttered.

It may have been a greater error allowing Colbert into the Fox News headquarters, located near the 'Colbert Report' studios in Manhattan. There, Colbert smuggled a microwave out of the green room, a bounty which he proudly displayed at the conclusion of his show.

A spokesman for Fox News confirmed that Colbert stole the microwave, but said it was all in good fun."

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Evanier on Colbert & D'Souza

news from Mark Evanier: "I haven't read the new book by Dinesh D'Souza that blames 'the left' for 9/11 but I keep catching appearances on his book tour. Mr. D'Souza is obviously a smart enough guy to know that much of the promotional hype for his book is just indefensible red meat. You can see him struggling to sound reasonable, trying to back away from his own jacket copy and the claims of his publisher while still reaping the potential sales benefits from that line.

He wasn't smart enough, however, to know he shouldn't go on The Colbert Report. Last night, Stephen Colbert eviscerated the guy so thoroughly, I'm not even sure D'Souza realized he'd been fileted wide open and had his innards removed. It was such an amazing piece of surgery that I once again take my life in my hands by embedding not one but two video links from the functionally-insane Comedy Central website. I think this will show you the two parts of the interview. If Colbert was just warming up for this week's reciprocal guest appearances with Bill O'Reilly, it's going to be brutal."

He's got the video from Comedy Central loaded for you.

George Stephanopoulos - New York Times

George Stephanopoulos - New York Times: Interesting piece on one of the better TV news guys these days.

Republicans Halt Ethics Legislation -

Republicans Halt Ethics Legislation - reports that the GOP's first filibuster squashed reform...are we surprised? "Senate Republicans scuttled broad legislation last night to curtail lobbyists' influence and tighten congressional ethics rules, refusing to let the bill pass without a vote on an unrelated measure that would give President Bush virtual line-item-veto power.

The bill could be brought back up later this year. Indeed, Democrats will try one last time today to break the impasse. But its unexpected collapse last night infuriated Democrats and the government watchdog groups that had been pushing it since the lobbying scandals that rocked the last Congress. Proponents charged that Republicans had used the spending-control measure as a ruse to thwart ethics rules they dared not defeat in a straight vote."

Columnist Art Buchwald dies

Columnist Art Buchwald dies at age 81 - Yahoo! News: "Columnist and author Art Buchwald, who for over four decades chronicled the life and times of Washington with an infectious wit and endeared himself to many with his never-say-die battle with failing kidneys, is dead at 81."

Evangelicals join in climate warning |

Evangelicals join in climate warning | "Evangelical leaders and climate scientists issued a joint 'call for action' Wednesday, telling President Bush and members of Congress that 'business as usual cannot continue yet one more day' on such issues as global warming.

The statement, formulated during a three-day retreat late last year at South Georgia's Melhana Plantation Resort in Thomasville, was signed by 28 evangelical and scientific leaders.

Some environmentalists saw the statement as the latest indication that opposition to government action on climate change may be melting away."

BBC: Americans embrace politics online

BBC NEWS | Technology | Americans embrace politics online: "Americans are increasingly using the internet as their primary source of political news, a study has found.

The report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project also found that more people are contributing to political debate via their own blogs.

While it stops short of claiming the net has politicised Americans, the report sees a growing online influence on how people think about civic issues."

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Boehlert at MM: What's up at ABC?

Media Matters - Spocko, Glenn Beck, and ABC: "President George W. Bush's popularity has fallen to new lows, Democrats have been swept into office, and a strong majority of Americans now opposes the war in Iraq, but ABC has decided the time is right to beef up with more conservative pundits on staff and to strike out against a liberal online critic who raised questions about the network's policy of broadcasting hate radio."

Give us guns and troops can go, says Iraqi leader

Give us guns - and troops can go, says Iraqi leader - World - Times Online: "America's refusal to give Baghdad's security forces sufficient guns and equipment has cost a great number of lives, the Iraqi Prime Minister said yesterday.

Nouri al-Maliki said the insurgency had been bloodier and prolonged because Washington had refused to part with equipment. If it released the necessary arms, US forces could 'drastically' cut their numbers in three to six months, he told The Times."

AJC: Lutheran church trial about to start

LUTHERAN CHURCH TRIAL: Converted critic - John Blake in the AJC: "James Mayer is a 70-year-old truck driver from South Carolina who calls himself a 'tough Lutheran.'

But when he talks about what's happened to him during the past six years, his eyes well up. He swallows hard and sighs. Then the tears come.

'Look at me,' he says with a sheepish smile. 'This is who I am. I'm not ashamed of it.'

Six years ago, Mayer was an angry man. St. John's Lutheran Church had elected the Rev. Bradley Schmeling, an openly gay man, as its new pastor. Only six people out of the then 250-member congregation voted against Schmeling. Mayer and his wife were two of them. He vowed not to return.

This is the worst thing that could have happened to the church, Mayer thought. They're probably going to close the doors.

St. John's doors remain open %u2014- but Schmeling's future is now in doubt.

Bishop Ronald B. Warren of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America filed charges in August against Schmeling after the pastor told him that he had entered into a relationship with another man. ELCA policy permits gay clergy —- only if they're celibate. Schmeling's trial starts in Atlanta on Friday. He could be expelled from the ELCA.

The Midtown church has since rallied around Schmeling —- and so has Mayer. He has not only returned to the church but contributed money to Schmeling's legal defense. He tears up at the prospect that "Pastor Brad" may no longer lead his church."

Obama confirms run for president

Obama confirms run for president - NYT: "Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois took his first step into the Democratic presidential race Tuesday by opening an exploratory committee to raise money and begin building a campaign designed 'to change our politics.' He said he would make a formal declaration Feb. 10 in Illinois.

'Running for the presidency is a profound decision -- a decision no one should make on the basis of media hype or personal ambition alone,' Obama said in a video address e-mailed to his supporters. 'So before I committed myself and my family to this race, I wanted to be sure that this was right for us and, more importantly, right for the country.'

Obama disclosed his decision on his Web site. He spent the rest of the day phoning Democratic leaders in Iowa, New Hampshire and other states with early contests in the 2008 nominating race."

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Evanier: So who's following Colbert at the WH Correspondents' Dinner?

news from me: "Okay, let's play a game. Let's say you're the guy who has to select the entertainment for the annual White House Correspondents Dinner. Every year, they bring in some comedian to perform and for the event scheduled for this April 21, you have to pick someone.

Last year, it was Stephen Colbert. The star of TV's The Colbert Report pulled few punches and really let both the assembled members of the press and George W. Bush have it. Many people found him hilarious. Others felt he bombed. Some were angry. (Here's a link to the video of what Colbert did that night, just in case you need any reminding.) A number of people complained, Bush looked unamused and there was much controversy, which is probably not what you want.

So you're in charge of picking someone to perform at this year's dinner. Who do you pick?"

[Answer..... Rich Little. Hmmmmmmmmm]

Mark Taylor on The Devoted Student

H/T The Light newsletter:
Mark Taylor is a religion and humanities professor at Williams College.

"The Devoted Student"
By Mark C. Taylor

More college students seem to be practicing traditional forms of religion today than at any time in my 30 years of teaching.

At first glance, the flourishing of religion on campuses seems to reverse trends long criticized by conservatives under the rubric of "political correctness." But, in truth, something else is occurring. Once again, right and left have become mirror images of each other; religious correctness is simply the latest version of political correctness. Indeed, it seems the more religious students become, the less willing they are to engage in critical reflection about faith.

The chilling effect of these attitudes was brought home to me two years ago when an administrator at a university where I was then teaching called me into his office. A student had claimed that I had attacked his faith because I had urged him to consider whether Nietzsche's analysis of religion undermines belief in absolutes. The administrator insisted that I apologize to the student. (I refused.)

My experience was not unique. Today, professors invite harassment or worse by including "unacceptable" books on their syllabuses or by studying religious ideas and practices in ways deemed improper by religiously correct students.

Distinguished scholars at several major universities in the United States have been condemned, even subjected to death threats, for proposing psychological, sociological or anthropological interpretations of religious texts in their classes and published writings. In the most egregious cases, defenders of the faith insist that only true believers are qualified to teach their religious tradition.

At a time when colleges and universities engage in huge capital campaigns and are obsessed with public relations, faculty members can no longer be confident they will remain free to pose the questions that urgently need to be asked.

For years, I have begun my classes by telling students that if they are not more confused and uncertain at the end of the course than they were at the beginning, I will have failed. A growing number of religiously correct students consider this challenge a direct assault on their faith. Yet the task of thinking and teaching, especially in an age of emergent fundamentalisms, is to cultivate a faith in doubt that calls into question every certainty.

Any responsible curriculum for the study of religion in the 21st century must be guided by two basic principles: first, a clear distinction between the study and the practice of religion, and second, an expansive understanding of what religion is and of the manifold roles it plays in life. The aim of critical analysis is not to pass judgment on religious beliefs and practices — though some secular dogmatists wrongly cross that line — but to examine the conditions necessary for their formation and to consider the many functions they serve.

It is also important to explore the similarities and differences between and among various religions. Religious traditions are not fixed and monolithic; they are networks of symbols, myths and rituals, which evolve over time by adapting to changing circumstances. If we fail to appreciate the complexity and diversity within, and among, religious traditions, we will overlook the fact that people from different traditions often share more with one another than they do with many members of their own tradition.

As religious faith rises, understanding of religion falls.

If chauvinistic believers develop deeper analyses of religion, they might begin to see in themselves what they criticize in others. In an era that thrives on both religious and political polarization, this is an important lesson to learn — one that extends well beyond the academy.

Since religion is often most influential where it is least obvious, it is imperative to examine both its manifest and latent dimensions. As defenders of a faith become more reflective about their own beliefs, they begin to understand that religion can serve not only to provide answers that render life more secure but also to prepare them for life's unavoidable complexities and uncertainties.

Until recently, many influential analysts argued that religion, a vestige of an earlier stage of human development, would wither away as people became more sophisticated and rational. Obviously, things have not turned out that way. Indeed, the 21st century will be dominated by religion in ways that were inconceivable just a few years ago. Religious conflict will be less a matter of struggles between belief and unbelief than of clashes between believers who make room for doubt and those who do not.

The warning signs are clear: unless we establish a genuine dialogue within and among all kinds of belief, ranging from religious fundamentalism to secular dogmatism, the conflicts of the future will probably be even more deadly.

Reprinted from The New York Times Copyright © 2006

BBC: UN marks soaring Iraq death toll

BBC NEWS | Middle East | UN marks soaring Iraq death toll: "More than 34,000 civilians were killed in violence in Iraq during 2006, a UN human rights official has said.

The envoy to Iraq, Gianni Magazzeni, said 34,452 civilians were killed and more than 36,000 hurt during the year.

The figure is nearly three times higher than calculations previously made on the basis of Iraqi interior ministry statistics for 2006.

Accurate figures are difficult to acquire, and previous UN estimates have been rejected outright by Baghdad.

Mr Magazzeni said his figures were compiled from data collected by the Health Ministry, hospitals, mortuaries and other agencies."

Monday, January 15, 2007

AJC: King's words still apply |

AJC editorial: King's words still apply | "In time to mark the national observance of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr's birthday, a new exhibit of his papers is opening at the Atlanta History Center. Separately, work is under way for a monument honoring him in Washington. While both will help enhance our understanding of the slain civil rights leader, the true significance of the man cannot be fully captured on paper or in stone.

King has left a living legacy that still has much relevance in contemporary America. While we've made progress toward the goals he championed, some of the ills he worked to cure during his lifetime have, in fact, metastasized.

At the risk of taking King's words out of context, it's instructive to see how elements of the philosophy he articulated a generation ago might apply to the problems and personalities shaping our world today."

Martin Luther King, Jr.: A Time to Break the Silence

American Rhetoric: Martin Luther King, Jr. -- A Time to Break the Silence (Declaration Against Vietnam War). Text and audio of a very timely message from Dr. King.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

AJC: Chris Hedges interviewed; author of American Fascists on Dominionist Christians

Commanded to rule | "When Pat Robertson calls for the assassination of the president of Venezuela, and James Dobson declares that 'the homosexual agenda is a beast -- it wants our kids,' and Benny Hinn announces that one day he will raise the dead if their coffins are placed in front of the TV, a certain segment of the population may grin, or wince. But a different segment of the population is listening intently and not laughing at all.

'For those of us who find all this sort of laughable and buffoonish, it's hard for us to take it seriously, and I think that's our great failing,' says author Chris Hedges 'These people are extremely dangerous.'

Hedges, an award-winning war correspondent, is the author of 'American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America,' in which he claims that Robertson, Jerry Falwell et al. want to take over the country and replace our liberal democracy with a rigid theocracy."

Here's the link to the interview.

C&L: Joe analyzes Bill O

Crooks and Liars: "The ongoing feud between Bill O'Reilly and NBC (and Joe Scarborough in particular) is a riot. Bill carried his obsession to a new level the other night, contacting a body language expert to analyze the movements of NBC commentators and concluding, in a broad, sweeping generalization, that the entire network has a deep-seated Bush hatred. Joe responds with an expert of his own to analyze O'Reilly's mannerisms. The results are not surprising." Check out the video.

Letterman's Top 10 Favorite George W. Bush Moments

Friday, January 12, 2007

Poll: Americans oppose Iraq troop surge

AP: Poll: Americans oppose Iraq troop surge: "Seventy percent of Americans oppose sending more troops to Iraq, according to a new poll that provides a devastatingly blunt response to President Bush's plan to bolster military forces there.

All sides in the Iraq debate are keenly aware of mounting public dissatisfaction with the situation: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday it's one thing on which all Americans %u2014 including administration officials %u2014 are united.

Yet the Associated Press-Ipsos poll found widespread disagreement with the Bush administration over its proposed solution, and growing skepticism that the United States made the right decision in going to war in the first place.
Just as 70 percent of Americans oppose sending more troops to Iraq, a like number don't think such an increase would help stabilize the situation there, the poll suggested. When asked to name the most important problem facing the U.S., 38 percent of those polled volunteered war, up significantly from 24 percent three months ago."

Washington Note: War against Syria and Iran?

The Washington Note: "Did the President Declare 'Secret War' Against Syria and Iran?

Washington intelligence, military and foreign policy circles are abuzz today with speculation that the President, yesterday or in recent days, sent a secret Executive Order to the Secretary of Defense and to the Director of the CIA to launch military operations against Syria and Iran.

The President may have started a new secret, informal war against Syria and Iran without the consent of Congress or any broad discussion with the country."

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Jim Wallis on Bush's escalation

God's Politics - Jim Wallis: "When the American people make it clear in the election, and in every public opinion poll, that they want an end to the war in Iraq, he ignores them. When the central recommendation of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group is 'new and enhanced diplomatic and political efforts%u2026that will enable the United States to begin to move its combat forces out of Iraq responsibly,' he ignores them. When Republican Senators across the spectrum -- from Susan Collins (ME) and Olympia Snowe (ME) to Sam Brownback (KS) and Gordon Smith (OR), and respected foreign policy expert Chuck Hagel (NE) -- oppose his plan, he ignores them. ('...a dangerously wrongheaded strategy that will drive America deeper into an unwinnable swamp,' says Hagel.) When the top U.S. military commanders in Iraq question the strategy, he replaces them."

AMERICAblog: A little Blackadder deja vu

AMERICAblog's John in DC: "Chris in Paris was telling me that Bush's 'new' plan for victory in Iraq reminded him of an episode of the hysterical BBC comedy 'Blackadder.' With a little sleuthing, Chris was able to find the episode in question. The relevant part begins about 2 minutes into the video - I've transcribed the dialogue, but you can find the video itself at the end of this post."

Arkin in WaPo: War with Iran and Syria?

War With Syria and Iran = Peace With Iraq? - Early Warning: "Seek out and destroy.

If there's anything in the President Bush's remarks tonight that we didn't already know or didn't anticipate him saying militarily about Iraq, it is his evident willingness to go to war with Syria and Iran to seek peace.

Speaking about the two countries tonight, the president said that the United States wiill 'seek out and destroy' those who are providing material support to our enemies.

It is only a threat. But it is a far cry from the diplomatic proposals floated just last month for making Syria and Iran part of the solution. Can the president really be saying that we are willing to risk war with the two countries, and even attack elements inside them, to achieve peace in Iraq?"

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Most say no to Iraq buildup -

Most say no to Iraq buildup - "President Bush will outline his 'new way forward' in Iraq on Wednesday to a nation that overwhelmingly opposes sending more U.S. troops and is increasingly skeptical that the war can be won.

A USA TODAY/Gallup Poll taken Friday through Sunday shows a daunting sales job ahead for the White House, which is considering a plan to deploy up to 20,000 additional U.S. troops to Iraq."

MM: ABC shut down blogger who criticized violent rhetoric on one of its radio stations

Media Matters - ABC shut down blogger who criticized violent rhetoric on one of its radio stations: "The mainstream media have yet to report on the story of a blogger whose website was shut down after he began
spotlighting inflammatory rhetoric common to several talk radio hosts on KSFO,
an ABC Radio-owned station in San Francisco."

Check out the whole story.

Carter, Clinton woo Baptists to new convention |

Carter, Clinton woo Baptists to new convention | "Former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton announced in Atlanta on Tuesday the creation of a Baptist organization they said would counter what they say is a negative image of their faith.

The New Baptist Convention was announced at the Carter Center by representatives of about 40 moderate Baptist groups that have distanced themselves from the conservative Southern Baptist Convention. Carter and Clinton - both Baptists - said the New Baptist Convention will look for solutions to problems such as poverty and racism. Carter and Clinton said they want to counter concerns that Baptists have been 'negative' and 'exclusionary' and promised an inclusive organization willing to debate openly all issues.

But an official with the Southern Baptist Convention- the largest Protestant denomination in the country - countered that the two presidents have fallen out of step with their church and are angry most conservative Baptists do not support their politics.

Tuesday's announcement stems from a long-running battle between conservative and moderate Baptists."

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Gag me: Glenn Beck on GMA

TV Week: "'Good Morning America' has hired conservative radio and CNN Headline News talk-show host Glenn Beck as a contributor.

"Glenn is a leading cultural commentator with a distinct voice," Jim Murphy, "GMA" senior executive producer, said in the announcement Tuesday.

Mr. Beck's eponymous show on CNN Headline News was the fastest-growing program in cable news in fourth quarter 2006, drawing an average 274,000 viewers at 7 p.m. weeknights and 329,000 at 9 p.m."

TPM: Marshall on Bush's Wed. Night Speech

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: "The president's 'surge' plan is at best supported by a minority of generals, military affairs experts, foreign policy hands, etc. In fact, that's generous. And it is overwhelmingly opposed by the American people.

Now, 'experts' aren't always right. And popular ideas aren't always good ideas.

But going back now some four years, who can point to even a single Bush administration decision in Iraq, either strategic or tactical, that didn't turn out to be either a bad idea or a complete disaster? Anything? One good call?

When the president goes before the people on Wednesday, he is basically saying, trust me.

It's never really possible to know what the future will bring, especially for most of us who may have gut level instincts about military strategy but little detailed operational knowledge. But given the track record and the fact that few people outside the White House seem to think this is a good idea, what possible basis is there to put any trust in Bush's latest gambit?"

BBC: US Somali air strikes 'kill many'

BBC NEWS | Africa | US Somali air strikes 'kill many': "The US is carrying out further air strikes in southern Somalia against Islamist fighters, who the US believes include members of an al-Qaeda cell.

The targets were reported to have been tracked by aerial reconnaissance and then attacked by a US gunship launched from a US military base in Djibouti.

The US says Somali Islamists sheltered al-Qaeda operatives linked to the 1998 US embassy bombings in East Africa.

The Somali transitional government says many people were killed in the raid.

The air strikes are taking place just a few days after the Union of Islamic Courts, which had taken control of much of central and southern Somalia during the past six months, was routed by soldiers from Ethiopia and Somalia's transitional government."

Monday, January 08, 2007

SoJo: The Gospel of Bling, by Dr. Robert Franklin

Sojourners Magazine has an excellent article on the prosperity gospel by Dr. Robert Franklin of Candler School of Theology at Emory University: "I am convinced that the single greatest threat to the historical legacy and core values of the contemporary black church tradition is posed by what is known as the %u201Cprosperity gospel%u201D movement. That movement, however, is only symptomatic of a larger mission crisis or %u201Cmission drift%u201D that has placed the black church in the posture of assimilating into a culture that is hostile to people living on the margins of society, such as people living in poverty, people living with AIDS, homosexuals, and immigrants.

This is not a new challenge. Christians have grappled with their relationship to material goods and opportunities in this world since the first century. But in our era something new and different has emerged. Today, prominent, influential, and attractive preachers and representatives of the church now are advocates for prosperity. Perhaps this could only occur at a time and in a place where two conditions exist. First, Christianity is the dominant faith tradition; second, the nation permits and rewards extraordinary inequalities of wealth and power."

E&P: FBOFW will continue as old/new hybrid

Popular Cartoon Will Stay On -- As Old/New Hybrid: "Millions of readers will breathe a partial sigh of relief when they learn that Lynn Johnston won't completely end 'For Better or For Worse' around the time it turns 28 this September. Instead, the strip will continue as an old/new hybrid that has little precedent in cartoon history.

'I'll be flying by the seat of my eraser,' joked Johnston, whose comic is one of only five with more than 2,000 newspapers. Details were still being worked out when Johnston spoke to E&P, but it's possible the hybrid 'FBorFW' will focus a lot on Michael Patterson and his family, who are about the same ages Elly Patterson and her family were when the comic started in 1979. Elly is the mother of Michael, who was a little boy in the early days of 'FBorFW.'

In the hybrid, many previously published "FBorFW" strips and scenes will be reprinted. The jumping-off point for those comics (which could include some redrawn and recolorized content) might be Michael looking at old photos or scrapbooks.

Johnston will also offer a certain amount of new material about Michael; his sisters, Elizabeth and April; his parents, Elly and John; and various other major and supporting characters. But one of the signature elements of "FBorFW" — the gradual aging of its cast — will come to a halt. "What I'd like to do is freeze the characters at the ages they are now," said Johnston, who turns 60 this May. "No people will grow older. No dogs will grow older and pass away.""

Sullivan: The Naturalness of Homosexuality

Andrew Sullivan - The Daily Dish Sunday, Jan. 7: "Homosexual bonding and sex are ubiquitous in nature, despite the ignorant attempts of the far right to describe it as 'unnatural'. A new exhibition in Norway finally presents the evidence in full, inspired by Bruce Bagemihl's ground-breaking book, 'Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity.'"

The imperial presidency 2.0 - International Herald Tribune

The imperial presidency 2.0 - International Herald Tribune: "Observing President George W. Bush in action lately, we have to wonder if he actually watched the election returns in November, or if he was just rerunning the 2002 vote on his TiVo.
That year, the White House used the fear of terrorism to scare American voters into cementing the Republican domination of Congress. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney then embarked on an expansion of presidential power chilling both in its sweep and in the damage it did to the constitutional system of checks and balances.
In 2006, the voters sent Bush a powerful message that it was time to rein in his imperial ambitions. But we have yet to see any sign that Bush understands that. Indeed, he seems to have interpreted his party's drubbing as a mandate to keep pursuing his fantasy of victory in Iraq and to press ahead undaunted with his assault on civil liberties and the judicial system."

Conservatives Decry Terror Laws' Impact on Refugees

Washington Post:

Conservatives who supported President Bush's reelection have joined liberal groups in expressing outrage over his administration's broad use of anti-terrorism laws to reject asylum for thousands of people seeking refuge from religious, ethnic and political persecution.

The critics say the administration's interpretation of provisions mandating denial of asylum to individuals who give "material support" to terrorist groups is so broad that foreigners who fought alongside U.S. forces in wars such as Vietnam can be denied asylum on the grounds that they provided aid to terrorists.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

TPM: Rumor buzz

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: "Spurious rumor alert: Negroponte to State to replace Rice, who is tapped to replace ailing Cheney."

Oil companies preparing to reap profits in Iraq

From the UK Independent: "Iraq's massive oil reserves, the third-largest in the world, are about to be thrown open for large-scale exploitation by Western oil companies under a controversial law which is expected to come before the Iraqi parliament within days.

"The US government has been involved in drawing up the law, a draft of which has been seen by The Independent on Sunday. It would give big oil companies such as BP, Shell and Exxon 30-year contracts to extract Iraqi crude and allow the first large-scale operation of foreign oil interests in the country since the industry was nationalised in 1972.

"The huge potential prizes for Western firms will give ammunition to critics who say the Iraq war was fought for oil. They point to statements such as one from Vice-President Dick Cheney, who said in 1999, while he was still chief executive of the oil services company Halliburton, that the world would need an additional 50 million barrels of oil a day by 2010. "So where is the oil going to come from?... The Middle East, with two-thirds of the world's oil and the lowest cost, is still where the prize ultimately lies," he said."

WaPo: Critics Say 'Surge' Is More of The Same

Critics Say 'Surge' Is More of The Same - "President Bush is putting the final touches on his new Iraq policy amid growing skepticism inside and outside the administration that the emerging package of extra troops, economic assistance and political benchmarks for the Baghdad government will make any more than a marginal difference in stabilizing the country.

Washington's debate over Iraq will intensify this week as Bush lays out his plans, probably on Wednesday or Thursday, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other administration officials face tough questions from Democrats in congressional hearings."

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Borowitz: God Denies Talking to Pat Robertson

God Denies Talking to Pat Robertson
Supreme Being Calls Televangelist ‘Delusional’

Just days after the Rev. Pat Robertson claimed on his “700 Club” program that God warned him of “mass killings” in the U.S. late in 2007, God held a rare press conference today to deny having spoken to the controversial televangelist.

For the usually publicity-shy King of the Universe, the press conference held at the Chicago Airport Marriott signaled a sharp break with tradition.

But appearing before the press in His trademark flowing robes and white beard, and carrying what appeared to be a lightning bolt, God said that He decided to convene the extraordinary press briefing because “I had to set the record straight about this.”

“I want to make it clear that at no time at the end of the year did I have any conversation with the Rev. Pat Robertson,” the Supreme Being said. “Personally, I think the guy is delusional.”

God then distributed His personal phone logs for the month of December to prove that He had in fact no contact with the Rev. Robertson.

“I don’t make a habit of talking to TV personalities,” God emphasized. “Although on New Year’s Eve I did have a brief chat with Ryan Seacrest to wish him good luck.”

Chevy Chase in NYT: Mr. Ford Gets the Last Laugh

The comedian writes an op-ed piece on the one-time target of his comedy: "In recent days, I’ve been bombarded by requests to comment on my relationship with President Gerald Ford. Until now, I’ve tried to say nothing — any remarks from me during the Ford family’s private time of grief would have been inappropriate.

The requests were understandable, I guess. You see, I made a reputation for myself 30 years ago on “Saturday Night Live” in part because of a number of sketches and “Weekend Updates” that I wrote or appeared in ridiculing Mr. Ford for his apparent “stumble-bumbling” (though he was perhaps the best athlete to have been president) and making fun of his presidency.

Luckily for me, Mr. Ford had a sense of humor...."

Friday, January 05, 2007

WaPo: Biden says top administration officials believe Iraq is lost

White House Postponing Loss of Iraq, Biden Says - "Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said yesterday that he believes top officials in the Bush administration have privately concluded they have lost Iraq and are simply trying to postpone disaster so the next president will 'be the guy landing helicopters inside the Green Zone, taking people off the roof,' in a chaotic withdrawal reminiscent of Vietnam.

'I have reached the tentative conclusion that a significant portion of this administration, maybe even including the vice president, believes Iraq is lost,' Biden said. 'They have no answer to deal with how badly they have screwed it up. I am not being facetious now. Therefore, the best thing to do is keep it from totally collapsing on your watch and hand it off to the next guy -- literally, not figuratively.'"

Obama Looks Ready To Run

Obama Looks Ready To Run - NBC5 Chicago: "Illinois Sen. Barack Obama is back at work after some time off due to the congressional recess, and it looks like he will soon have a major announcement.

NBC5 political reporter Mary Ann Ahern reported on Wednesday that it appears that Obama will soon announce that he is running for president."

House Bans Lobbyist Gifts, Business-Sponsored Travel - Yahoo! News

House Bans Lobbyist Gifts, Business-Sponsored Travel - Yahoo! News: "The U.S. House of Representatives, after installing its new Democratic leadership, voted to ban lawmakers from flying on corporate jets and accepting gifts and meals from lobbyists.

The House passed, 430-1, a package of rules aimed at demonstrating Democrats' commitment to cleaning up Congress. Tomorrow, the House will vote on rules designed to end the anonymous sponsorship of pet projects, or earmarks, that have been quietly tucked into spending measures."

DK: MSNBC - The Only Gainer In Cable News. Fox - The Biggest Loser

Daily Kos, KingOneEye: "MSNBC has beaten the competition in terms of audience growth consistently for the last twelve months. So it should come as no surprise that MSNBC's tally for 2006 shows not only the highest gain over 2005, but the only gain amongst cable news networks.

As usual, it was Keith Olbermann's Countdown that fueled the increase. Countdown was up 60% in total viewers and 67% in the 25-54 demo. Keith's nemesis, Bill O'Reilly, can still boast about being the number one program on cable news, but those footsteps he hears are not the pitter-patter of the Culture Warrior Youth."

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Daily Kos: Negroponte to State: What's Going On?

Daily Kos: BooMan23 digs into the news: "My little hamster wheel has been spinning white hot ever since I read that John Negroponte is leaving his position as Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to take a position as Deputy Secretary of State. This is some really, really strange stuff. There are some very deep politics beneath this."

AP: Dem Proposals have public support

AP via 1010WINS: "Two of the Democrats' top goals - a higher minimum wage and federal funding of embryonic stem cell research - enjoy broad public support as the party takes control of Congress for the first time in a dozen years.

An overwhelming majority also supports making it easier for people to buy prescription drugs from other countries.

But the jury is out on incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Most people say they do not know enough yet to have an opinion of the California Democrat who will be the first woman in that office, an Associated Press-AOL News poll found.

The survey results come as the 110th Congress is set to convene at noon Thursday, with Democrats eager to keep their promises to pass several pieces of legislation in the first 100 hours of business, including the minimum wage increase and stem cell research funding. Voters, exasperated by investigations into the ethics of GOP lawmakers and unhappy with the situation in Iraq, toppled Republican majorities in the House and Senate last November."

NYDN: Bush's signing statement says feds can open mail without warrant

Bush says feds can open mail without warrant | "President Bush has quietly claimed sweeping new powers to open Americans' mail without a judge's warrant, the New York Daily News has learned.

The president asserted his new authority when he signed a postal reform bill into law on Dec. 20. Bush then issued a 'signing statement' that declared his right to open people's mail under emergency conditions.

That claim is contrary to existing law and contradicted the bill he had just signed, say experts who have reviewed it.

Bush's move came during the winter congressional recess and a year after his secret domestic electronic eavesdropping program was first revealed.

It caught Capitol Hill by surprise.

'Despite the president's statement that he may be able to circumvent a basic privacy protection, the new postal law continues to prohibit the government from snooping into people's mail without a warrant,' said Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the incoming House Government Reform Committee chairman, who co-sponsored the bill."

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Froomkin: Where's the outrage?

White House Briefing - "The American voters in November made it clear that it's time to start withdrawing from Iraq. Political leaders from both parties and any number of experts are increasingly coming to the realization that American soldiers are dying, day in and day out, in pursuit of an unattainable goal.

So what is President Bush about to do? By all indications: escalate. His 'new way forward' in Iraq appears to call for more troops -- along with a series of other measures that might have helped if he'd taken them three years ago."

WaPo: Muslim Rep-elect will use JEFFERSON's Koran

Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts - "Rep.-elect Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, found himself under attack last month when he announced he'd take his oath of office on the Koran -- especially from Virginia Rep. Virgil Goode, who called it a threat to American values.

Yet the holy book at tomorrow's ceremony has an unassailably all-American provenance. We've learned that the new congressman -- in a savvy bit of political symbolism -- will hold the personal copy once owned by Thomas Jefferson."

C&L: Olbermann: Special Comment on “Sacrifice”

Crooks and Liars - Olbermann: Special Comment on “Sacrifice”: "If in your presence an individual tried to sacrifice an American serviceman or woman, would you intervene? Would you at least protest? What if he had already sacrificed 3,003 of them? What if he had already sacrificed 3,003 of them — and was then to announce his intention to sacrifice hundreds, maybe thousands, more?"

Video at C&L.

WaPo: Richard Clarke op-ed on what's not getting done

While You Were at War . . . - "In every administration, there are usually only about a dozen barons who can really initiate and manage meaningful changes in national security policy. For most of 2006, some of these critical slots in the Bush administration have been vacant, such as the deputy secretary of state (empty since Robert B. Zoellick left for investment bank Goldman Sachs) and the deputy director of national intelligence (with Gen. Michael V. Hayden now CIA director). And with the nation involved in a messy war spiraling toward a bad conclusion, the key deputies and Cabinet members and advisers are all focusing on one issue, at the expense of all others: Iraq."

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Democrats To Start Without GOP Input -

Democrats To Start Without GOP Input - "As they prepare to take control of Congress this week and face up to campaign pledges to restore bipartisanship and openness, Democrats are planning to largely sideline Republicans from the first burst of lawmaking.

House Democrats intend to pass a raft of popular measures as part of their well-publicized plan for the first 100 hours. They include tightening ethics rules for lawmakers, raising the minimum wage, allowing more research on stem cells and cutting interest rates on student loans."

Here we go...

Sunni anger spills into streets

Sunni anger spills into streets - "Enraged crowds protested the hanging of Saddam Hussein across Iraq's Sunni heartland Monday, as a mob in Samara broke the locks off a bomb-damaged Shiite shrine and marched through carrying a mock coffin and photo of the dictator.

The demonstration in the Golden Dome, shattered in a bombing by Sunni extremists 10 months ago, suggests that many Sunni Arabs may now more actively support the small number of Sunni militants fighting the country's Shiite-dominated government. The Feb. 22 bombing of the shrine triggered the current cycle of retaliatory attacks between Sunnis and Shiia, in the form of daily bombings, kidnappings and murders."

As Joe in DC opines on AmericaBlog: "just when you think Iraq can't get any worse, it's getting worse. Bush couldn't do anything to improve the situation over there before this latest debacle. We're so screwed. Bush may have Saddam's scalp, but, even in death, Saddam is getting his revenge on Bush every day that this war continues."

BBC: Bush 'to reveal Iraq troop boost'

BBC NEWS - Bush 'to reveal Iraq troop boost': "US President George W Bush intends to reveal a new Iraq strategy within days, the BBC has learnt.

The speech will reveal a plan to send more US troops to Iraq to focus on ways of bringing greater security, rather than training Iraqi forces.

The move comes with figures from Iraqi ministries suggesting that deaths among civilians are at record highs."

3000 Americans dead, more troops on the way, civilian casualties at unprecedented levels... happy new year.