The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Faux News bureau chief accidentally admits truth

On May 25, Fox anchor David Asman made the mistake the GOP fears most-- letting the truth slip.

ASMAN: So, Senator [Trent Lott], if we should have done it and if we had the votes to do it in the Senate -- if you guys in the Republican Party did -- then why did you need a compromise?

Oops. Bad form. But he caught himself pretty quickly there. Fox News' London bureau chief Scott Norvell wasn't as lucky as Assman. His accidental honesty was in print. In an op-ed for the European edition of the Wall Street Journal, he had this to say:

"Even we at Fox News manage to get some lefties on the air occasionally, and often let them finish their sentences before we club them to death and feed the scraps to Karl Rove and Bill O'Reilly."

Calling Deep Throat.... (and I don't mean Linda Lovelace)

The news was all over the place today, and it sounds like it's just been confirmed:

"The Washington Post today confirmed that W. Mark Felt, a former number-two official at the FBI, was "Deep Throat," the secretive source who provided information that helped unravel the Watergate scandal in the early 1970s and contributed to the resignation of president Richard M. Nixon.

The confirmation came from Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the two Washington Post reporters who broke the Watergate story, and their former top editor, Benjamin C. Bradlee. The three spoke after Felt's family and Vanity Fair magazine identified the 91-year-old Felt, now a retiree in California, as the long-anonymous source who provided crucial guidance for some of the newspaper's groundbreaking Watergate stories."

Now if we could just find someone to come clean on this administration's evil activities. I can even recommend a cool pseudonym: Absorbine, Sr. Any takers out there?

Monday, May 30, 2005

Pardon me... do you have any shameless marketing ploys?

I guess this shouldn't come as a surprise. It's shrewd, tacky, and further cheapens political discourse in the US. Jeez. A bad taste in my mouth like this means it's time for me to have a Coke and a smile.(TM)

Santa Monica, CA -- Governor Schwarzenegger should pull a political commercial off the air that promotes the junk food products of his campaign donors, consumer advocates said today. The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) called on Schwarzenegger to return the quarter-million dollars he received from companies featured in the ad, and for the corporations to pay the market value of the advertising to the state because it is improper for the governor to use public office to sell corporate products.

The TV ad, released in May, features Schwarzenegger talking to people in a lunchroom, and places Pepsi and Arrowhead Water in prominent spots next to the governor for 1/3 of the ad. Donors connected to Pepsi Co. and Arrowhead Water's parent company, Nestle, gave the governor a total of $279,800 in campaign contributions. Also recognizable on-screen are Ruffles, Sun Chips, Cheetos and a SoBe Beverage, all brands owned by Pepsi.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

More evidence of the admin's Iraq plans

More bad news from England that you won't hear much about here. After the Downing Street Memo, which showed that the White House intended to invade Iraq all along, comes more evidence:

"THE RAF and US aircraft doubled the rate at which they were dropping bombs on Iraq in 2002 in an attempt to provoke Saddam Hussein into giving the allies an excuse for war, new evidence has shown.

The attacks were intensified from May, six months before the United Nations resolution that Tony Blair and Lord Goldsmith, the attorney-general, argued gave the coalition the legal basis for war. By the end of August the raids had become a full air offensive.

The details follow the leak to The Sunday Times of minutes of a key meeting in July 2002 at which Blair and his war cabinet discussed how to make “regime change” in Iraq legal."

A look at the most mega of megachurches

Harper's has put this article online, and it's well worth a read. Colorado Springs is ground zero for the brand of fundamentalism that's being pushed by this administration. And it's more disturbing than you might have thought:

“Church” is insufficient to describe the complex. There is a permanent structure called the Tent, which regularly fills with hundreds or thousands of teens and twentysomethings for New Life’s various youth gatherings. Next to the Tent stands the old sanctuary, a gray box capable of seating 1,500; this juts out into the new sanctuary, capacity 7,500, already too small. At the complex’s western edge is the World Prayer Center, which looks like a great iron wedge driven into the plains. The true architectural wonder of New Life, however, is the pyramid of authority into which it orders its 11,000 members. At the base are 1,300 cell groups, whose leaders answer to section leaders, who answer to zone, who answer to district, who answer to Pastor Ted Haggard, New Life’s founder.

Friday, May 27, 2005

How I learned to start worrying and fear the bomb

I'm a fan of Eric Alterman. And I'm mighty fond of this piece he wrote, "How to Lose a Country in Seven Easy Steps." Like Joe Conason, Alterman is a master of writing even-tempered critiques of political outrages. Also like Conason, he's a big fan of facts-- not innuendo.

Highly recommended. Here's the teaser:

Point one: The Bush administration is, as this piece in today’s Washington Post puts it, working to “consolidate influence in a small circle of Republicans and to marginalize dissenting voices that would try to impede a conservative agenda.” . . .

Point Two: They are doing so with a historically unprecedented, at least in this country, degree of secrecy, and therefore lack of accountability.

DeLay linked to criminal behavior. Finally.

From Salon:

State District Judge Joseph H. Hart ruled Thursday that the treasurer of a political fundraising committee organized by DeLay violated the state's election law by failing to report $684,507 in contributions from corporations and other donors in 2002.

"The House Ethics Committee has run out of excuses for avoiding an investigation into Rep. DeLay's involvement with Texans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee," said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington, in a statement. "Now that a Texas court has held that TRMPAC violated the law, the Ethics Committee finally must consider the extent to which Tom DeLay was involved in the conspiracy to violate Texas campaign laws in order to gerrymander Texas Congressional districts."

UPDATE: For his part, DeLay is tackling the important issues of the day-- like accusing fictional characters of maligning his squeaky-clean name. Witness this Reuters story, with accompanying picture of DeLay proudly wearing his American flag, 'support our troops' ribbon, snap-on hair and perma-grin:

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Thursdays with Joe

I'm listening to an interview with Joe Lieberman on the Ed Shultz show. I've got a mixed response.

Good: He's given a flat-out NO to private accounts on Social Security(UPDATE: I should have added that his reasoning was opposition to the added national debt required to put those accounts into place). He will vote against cloture on the Bolton debate, stating that the Senate has the right to see the pertinent documents that the admin won't release.

Bad: He's considering voting yes on Bolton (no rationale given). He totally dodged a question on Iraq-- but said that "there has been progress," the Iraqi forces are getting better, we held elections, etc. But at least he had the nuts to admit that we'd be there a long time. Oh, and he didn't rule out some sort of compromise on Social Security. The bad news is that compromise rumors haven't even mentioned private accounts. The GOP knows they can't win, so they're trying to combine increasing the cap with benefit cuts-- which would amount to another overall tax cut for the rich at the expense of the middle class at a time when our national finances are in damn sorry shape.

So he still gets a fairly bad response from me. Why does he insist on waffling when the heat is on? Why in the world is he still willing to cut deals with a party that's so relentlessly dishonest? And worst of all, why is he still making nicey-nice on GOP issues that the American public is so obviously against?

Historically, he's been a pretty decent Dem (aside from his ties to big finance-- perhaps unavoidable in New Hampshire), but he's really been letting us down in the clinch over the last couple of years. It's one thing to go against your party on issues of conscience. But it's quite another to go against popular opinion AND the party in the name of gentility and centrism. That's just another manifestation of ideology over values.

When is a deal not a deal?

When it's made by the current GOP. From Think Progress comes this report that the Republicans are already working on ways to immunize against any potential outbreak of bipartisanship that might result from the filibuster deal:

Before the ink had even dried on the filibuster deal, conservatives began inventing exceptions and loopholes so at a later date they could push their agenda through with a clear conscience or cry foul when things don’t work in their favor. First Senator Mike DeWine (R-OH). Then Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN). And now the White House.

At today’s press briefing, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan was asked how the President felt about the fact that some of his nominees were being given passage while others were not. McClellan responded, “It’s my understanding the agreement was silent on those [two nominees].” Actually, far from remaining “silent” on the two nominees, the agreement names them specifically and states: “Signatories make no commitment to vote for or against cloture on the following judicial nominees: William Myers (9th Circuit) and Henry Sadd (6th Circuit).” In acknowleding the right of senators to filibuster at least in “extraordinary circumstances,” the signatories agreed these two Bush nominees meet that standard and should be withdrawn or subject to filibuster.

Voinovich's half-conscience returns

It's always nice to see a member of Congress do the right thing in front of his peers. But it loses its edge when that member could have done it earlier and do greater effect.

Sentor Voinovich of Ohio is pressing fellow Republicans to vote against John Bolton as a nominee. And went so far as to start getting teary-eyed while asking his colleagues to think long and hard about the significance of their vote and what's at stake in terms of America's sorry reputation abroad. If only he'd shown such passion when he could've sunk Bolton's nomination in the first place....

Some video of his speech (2 megs):


Right-wing judges: definitely never activists

Also amazing. The chief judge of an Indiana Superior Court has ruled on which religions a child can and can't be exposed to. Which Republicans do you suppose will oppose this example of "legislating from the bench?"

"An Indianapolis father is appealing a Marion County judge's unusual order that prohibits him and his ex-wife from exposing their child to "non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals."

The parents practice Wicca, a contemporary pagan religion that emphasizes a balance in nature and reverence for the earth.

Cale J. Bradford, chief judge of the Marion Superior Court, kept the unusual provision in the couple's divorce decree last year over their fierce objections, court records show. The order does not define a mainstream religion.

Bradford refused to remove the provision after the 9-year-old boy's outraged parents, Thomas E. Jones Jr. and his ex-wife, Tammie U. Bristol, protested last fall."

McClellan backs off lies-- by lying again...

Amazing. White House spokesmonkey Scott McClellan is not only saying that the Newsweek story wasn't responsible for deaths overseas, but that he never claimed it was.

"NEW YORK At a White House press briefing Monday, Press Secretary Scott McClellan, pressed by reporters and with Afghan President Karzai in disagreement, retreated on claims that Newsweek's retracted story on Koran abuse cost lives in Afghanistan.

He also claimed that he had never said it did, even though a check of transcripts disputes that. On May 16, for example, he said, "people have lost their lives." On May 17, he said, "People did lose their lives," and, "People lost their lives" due to the Newsweek report."

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Attacks on Newsweek: Lies or Incompetence?

This is a breaking story that's spreading rapidly around the Web, and it begs the above question. When the White House and all of their propaganda monkeys on the right went on the warpath against Newsweek, it was well-known on the left that reports of Koran-trashing have been around for years.

Documents released by the FBI today show that the government has known about it for years, too. Which means one of two things: A) the White House knows about the reports and lied about thm to the American public, or B) the White House don't know how the prosecution of their "war on terror" is being carried out, and their attacks were made through ignorance. Lying or incompetent? It can only be one of the two.

From the story:

NEW YORK -- New documents released by the FBI include previously undisclosed interviews in which prisoners at Guantánamo complain that guards have mistreated the Koran, the American Civil Liberties Union said today. In one 2002 summary, an FBI interrogator notes a prisoner’s allegation that guards flushed a Koran down the toilet.

The disclosure comes on the heels of controversy over a Newsweek report saying that government investigators had corroborated an almost identical incident. Newsweek ultimately retracted its story because a confidential government source could not be confirmed.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

PBS president strikes against the right

Keep those fingers crossed. PBS has already weakened its hand by caving in to the right on some issues-- and failing to realize that appeasement isn't an option with these kooks. But now, in the wake of Bill Moyers' recent speech about the importance of a free press-- it looks like they might stop ceding ground.

From the AP story:

"WASHINGTON - The president of the Public Broadcasting Service on Tuesday rejected criticism by conservatives that public TV is guilty of liberal bias, and she offered a strong defense of PBS' Bill Moyers, a target of right-wing wrath.

"PBS does not belong to any one political party," Pat Mitchell said.

Mitchell's remarks at the National Press Club follow the disclosure that Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, the Republican chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, hired a consultant to keep track of guests' political views on a program hosted by Moyers, who was White House press secretary during the Johnson administration.

"The facts do not support the case he makes" for political bias, Mitchell said of Tomlinson. Surveys show that the overwhelming majority of the public does not perceive bias in public broadcasting, she said."

Here's my take-- PBS needs to start doing this on a regular basis. After all, the CPB's own polls show that most Americans don't think of PBS as biased. And Tomlinson felt obliged to try two of them. When neither gave him the results he wanted, he chose to ignore them and try to reshape PBS' programming anyway. So the fine folks at PBS should start screaming bloody murder and make sure that this story gets coverage at a time when the fundamentalists are at their weakest and most out of favor with the public. It's a heck of a long time 'till the elections, but if these stories about religious takeovers keep up the effect could be lasting.

Will Frist defy yesterday's filibuster deal?

Last night Senator Bill Frist (widely seen as yesterday's big loser) stated that he would abide by the compromise, which would lead to two judicial nominees being withdrawn or filibustered, Myers and Saad. Today, he's already making noises to the contrary. From the above post:

"Senate Majority Leader Frist will file for cloture on President Bush’s nomination of William Myers to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals later this week, according to sources on and off Capitol Hill, wasting no time in testing the resolve of 14 Republican and Democratic senators who forced at least a temporary halt to the battle over Democratic filibusters of President Bush’s judicial picks."

Looks like the battle's just begun.

The government's lies on Pat Tillamn's death

This is a highly recommended piece on a story that's gotten relatively little attention because of the filibuster battle, but it deserves plenty-- especially since it comes at the same time of the phony Newsweek 'scandal.' An excerpt:

(May 24, 2005) -- Where, in the week after the Great Newsweek Error, is the comparable outrage in the press, in the blogosphere, and at the White House over the military's outright lying in the coverup of the death of former NFL star Pat Tillman? Where are the calls for apologies to the public and the firing of those responsible? Who is demanding that the Pentagon's word should never be trusted unless backed up by numerous named and credible sources?

Where is a Scott McClellan lecture on ethics and credibility?

The Tillman scandal is back in the news thanks not to the military coming clean but because of a newspaper account. Ironically, the newspaper in question, The Washington Post -- which has taken the lead on this story since last December -- is corporate big brother to Newsweek.

The Post's Josh White reported this week that Tillman's parents are now ripping the Army, saying that the military's investigations into their son's 2004 "friendly fire" death in Afghanistan was a sham based on "lies" and that the Army cover-up made it harder for them to deal with their loss. They are speaking out now because they have finally had a chance to look at the full records of the military probe.

"Tillman's mother and father said in interviews that they believe the military and the government created a heroic tale about how their son died to foster a patriotic response across the country," White reported.

While military officials' lying to the parents have gained wide publicity in the past two days, hardly anyone has mentioned that they also lied to the public and to the press, which dutifully carried one report after another based on the Pentagon's spin. It had happened many times before, as in the Jessica Lynch incident.

NYT: Deal a "small victory" for Bush

Exhibit 1 in spinning the filibuster compromise. The NYT article insists that this is a win for Bush, although it doesn't seem to explain why. The four quotes come from Scott McClellan, and unnamed "veteran Republican with close ties to the White House" (who attacks Dems as "brain-dead"), the admin's communications director, and a "presidential scholar at Georgetown University" who talks about Clinton and Gingrich.

Nothing from beltway Democrats. Nothing about the far-right's anger over the deal. Nothing about Frist having rejected all compromise overtures (although there is a picture of Frist and Reid together, smiling).

Irresponsible stuff, to say the least. So it looks like things are already back to normal.

WaPo: Deal "at best a cease-fire."

This is a good article on the initial results of the filibuster deal. It's frustrating to hear Lieberman talking about the victory of the "bipartisan center," which includes confirming several clearly unfit nominees, such as Priscilla Owen. Axing some blatantly incompetent nominees by approving those that are merely corrupt extremists doesn't really strike me 'centrism.'

The nuclear option is still a card in the GOP's hand, and judging from their track record it won't take much for them to reach for it in the future-- heck, we havent even seen a Supreme Court nominee yet. And the deal reached continues the sorry trend of defining centrism ever-more rightward. I can't get excited about the silver lining of "at least we haven't lost everything. Today."

Monday, May 23, 2005

Breaking News: McCain and Lieberman instrumental in confirming (some) nominees

From what I'm seeing as I surf the cable news channels, a compromise has been reached by a group of fourteen "moderate" senators from both parties. Most notably, the two mentioned above. As a result, the filibuster won't be destroyed-- a result that would have grave consequences for both parties. Also as a result, several reactionary judges will earn judicial appointments after already having been rejected by the Senate, while others could potentially be defeated (specifically, William Myers, Henry Said, Brett Kavanaugh, and William Haynes).

It'll be interesting to see the activity on the blogs over the next twelve hours, but I'm fairly confident in predicting that this is ultimately a Republican victory-- in part because the faces of the compromise are McCain, who has lately been making decisions based on his presidential bid in '08, and Lieberman, who has only received attention since his failed '04 run as the Democrat most likely to support evil GOP legislation.

My fear is that this will be spun as another win for the GOP, in spite of the best efforts of those obstructionist Dems. You know the drill-- "See? There are only a few Democrats willing to be bi-partisan. The rest are insane." Certainly, the rhetoric from the right will be back in full force when it's Supreme Court time.

UPDATE: Many-- but not all-- of the bigtime blogs seem to be more 'cautiously optimistic' than I am, in that nobody knew if we could get the last one or two votes needed to prevent the nuclear option and utter defeat. On the other hand, the right-wing blogs appear to be apoplectic at a less-than-complete victory and what they see as betrayal by a few renegade Republican senators. If the sheer hysteria of some of their statements continues, they might just ruin their own chance to have the story spun their way...

Many are noting that Bill Frist is obviously furious (some are already calling it the end of his presidential ambitions), while Harry Reid is putting on a happy face. Feingold is none too happy, either (and I have to admit that I agree with his statement), while James "gay cartoon" Dobson is railing against the GOP. It's a lot to sort out.

Of course, it is a good thing that we aren't faced with an inevitable appointment of right-wing fruitcakes to the Supreme Court. But every nomination is going to be another hard fight, and the GOP can still threaten to 'go nuclear' anytime. The victory for the Dems, if it turns out to be one, is in maybe not losing everything.

There's still going to plenty of virtual ink spilled over this over the next day or two, but these are the intial responses. While the dust settles, you can read the deal itself here:

Action Alert: contact moderate GOP senators on nuclear option

It sounds more and more like the Republican attempt to silence the minority will take place tomorrow. If you are represented by any of the following senators, contact them through the numbers below. Leave it up to the far-right to be the foam-mouthed idiots. Shoot for "polite, yet firm" as you point out their potential complicity in the destruction of the republic. The fight isn't over yet, and the next 24 hours should make for some engrossing political theater. Undoubtedly the GOP still has a trick or two to play. But however things fall out, it's going to be close. And we can still win.

Arlen Specter: (Pennsylvania)
DC Office:

Philadelphia Office:

Pittsburgh Office:

John Warner: (Virginia)
DC Office:
(202) 224-2023

Richmond Office:
(804) 739-0247

Norfolk Office:
(757) 441-3079

Mike Dewine: (Ohio)
DC Office:
(202) 224-2315

Cleveland office:
(216) 522-7272

Columbus office:
(614) 469-5186

Chuck Hagel: (Nebraska)
DC Office:
(202) 224-4224

Omaha Office:
(402) 758-8981

Laura Bush can't win in Israel

Laura Bush is in the midst of her Middle East tour, but she ran into a little snag in Israel when she was in a position where the administration's handlers couldn't stack the deck-- walking down the street to the Dome of the Rock. While she was smart enough to wear a Muslim headscarf, she wasn't smart enough to stay away from an Islamic holy site. Crooks and Liars has a clip of a story by Wolf Blitzer that shows some footage (see below- approx. 20 megs). But what it comes down to is that she was being heckled and protested by Arabs and Jews. Gee, maybe Bush can unite Israel and Palestine, if only through their mutual hatred for the current American government...


Dean on Meet the Press-- blogs and radio hosts give thumbs up.

I was impressed by Dean's appearance on Meet the Press yesterday, and I thought he did a great job responding to Tim Russert's goofy questions about the morality of poking fun at poor Rush Limbaugh for being a drug addict. It was pretty disgraceful, considering that Limbaugh has quite literally built an extremely successful career out of attacking others (whether falsely or correctly) for being anything less than candidates for sainthood-- but only if they're on the left, of course.

The blogs and the liberal radio hosts are giving the nod to Dean for standing his ground and refusing to play wet noodle for the sake of the right. The mainstream media, as Kos points out, was probably going to respond to his appearance one of two ways-- he's still a liberal bombthrower, or he's just one more flip-flopper. A lose-lose situation. And apparently most outlets (including the NYT) are going with the former.

For my part, I saw a man sticking to his guns and talking straight-- with plenty of evidence to support his claims. The link above will take you to a complete transcript of Dean's appearance. There's also a short clip on Crooks 'n Liars (10 megs):

Video-WMP Video-QT

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Cataloguing Republican values

This is a disturbing list of Republican officials, activists, boosters and voters-- usually engaging in the activities they've spent their adult lives decrying.

It's shocking, and it isn't pleasant. In a way, it isn't surprising. The most common offenses seem to be pedophilia and buggery-- often in conjunction. But it's something to keep in your arsenal of "American values" retorts to sanctimonious right-wingers.

Action alert: join MoveOn's effort to stop the nuclear option

Follow the link above and add your voice by 9:00 AM eastern time on the morning of May 23rd.

I've found that several people I know who aren't news junkies haven't even heard of the Republican attempt to stop debate on the Senate floor.

As always, I highly recommend that you personalize the message. It makes a difference. If you can't do that, at least join the 135,000 who have already joined the effort.

(Thanks to Del Rubio for encouraging my action on this.)

A look at Priscilla Owen

Joe Conason has rounded up the case against Owen for his latest column in Salon. Nominated for a lifetime post on the federal appellate court, she is the judge that the GOP is using as the poster child for Bush's "unfairly rejected" judicial nominees-- and the debate over her record is likely to trigger the nuclear option on Tuesday. Living in a state with two senators who will oppose the change to Senate rules, it doesn't do me any good to write to them. But if you live in a state with a Republican senator, you should write to them before Tuesday.

Here are a few things you should know about the obviously corrupt Owen:

"Among the most notorious examples is a case in which Owen wrote the majority opinion that allowed Enron Corp. to escape more than $200,000 in school district taxes. In her 1994 campaign, she took $8,600 from the Houston energy firm and $31,550 from its lawyers at the powerhouse firm of Vinson & Elkins; her consultant Rove also worked for Enron. Two years later, when Spring Independent School District vs. Enron reached her court, she did not recuse herself from the case. Her opinion allowed Enron to choose its own method for valuation, cutting the taxable property assessment by millions of dollars.

So obnoxious was her conduct in the Enron case that it provoked the Houston Chronicle -- a newspaper that has enthusiastically endorsed Bush -- to urge the Senate to reject her nomination three years ago. While acknowledging that Democratic objections to Owen were hardly apolitical, the newspaper's editorial said the Democrats were also displaying "a rational desire to prevent the lifetime appointment of a justice who has shown a clear preference for ruling to achieve a particular result rather than impartially interpreting the law. . ."

One of her better-known dissents came in a case that tested the constitutionality of a state law that had been written specifically to exempt a land developer from the city of Austin's water quality regulations.

Having taken $2,500 from that developer (and an additional $45,000 from the developer's law firm), Owen blasted her colleagues for violating the firm's "property rights," which included the right to foul the water supply in her view. The majority replied that her dissent was "nothing more than inflammatory rhetoric and thus merits no response."

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Beating the Axis vs. beating the 'Axis of Evil'

Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941, resulting in the deaths of 2,403 US military personnel and 68 civilians. The Japanese invasion force included 6 aircraft carriers, 2 battleships, 2 heavy cruisers, 6 destroyers, a number of submarines, and 441 aircraft. On that day an Democratic American president and Congress joined World War II with nine other countries in the effort to defeat the Axis powers. Victory in Europe Day was May 8, 1945.

Germany's fascist regime had conquered most of Europe and northern Africa, and threatened England and the Soviet Union. From the time we entered the war to the time we had defeated the Nazis was three and a half years. The defeat of the Japanese empire would take another three months. The United States was lauded as the liberator of the free world.

19 fundamentalist Muslims attacked the United States on September 11, 2001, in four hijacked commercial airliners and the death toll was 2,743. The Republican president and Congress authorized military action against Afghanistan on September 14, 2001, and had the support of seventy other nations. Airstrikes began on October 7, 2001. As of May 8, 2005, the leader of the terrorists remains at large, the fundamentalist regime continues to control some areas of the nation, US troops continue to die, and the American president was recently photographed holding hands with a crown prince of the home country of 15 of the 19 attacking terrorists. America's reputation among free nations is that of a dictatorial thug. No action has been taken against three of the four countries cited as members of the enemies of the United States. Britain has since disarmed one of those countries through diplomacy. The other two are now said, respectively, to possess and be actively pursuing nuclear warheads.

I won't even mention the fact that the American president defied his own military advisors and sent in too few troops to meet the danger, the fact that some $9 billion dollars have gone missing at the hands of the US government, or that American corporations have overcharged their own country by tens of millions of dollars-- and subsequently been awarded tens of millions of dollars in 'bonuses' by the government. I won't mention that during World War II, the Democratic president and Congress called for an investigation into war profiteering on the part of American corporations. I won't mention the fact that the current American president is the descendant of an American who contributed money to the very regime we were fighting against in Europe.

I will mention that the United States spent $341 billion during the entirety of WWII. The 'War on Terror' has cost the US more than $300 billion to date. The 2004 national deficit, as expressed in 1996 dollars, is identical to that of 1945.

I can provide citations for all statistics appearing in this post. And they aren't from leftist sources.

Freedom is on the frogmarch.

At least things went well in Afghanistan, right? Not exactly. Puppet president Hamid Karzai felt obligated to denounce the US this week in order to maintain his tenuous position. The country is the world's largest producer of opium. Warlords control swathes of the country. The Taliban has reasserted control in some areas. And the potential for a religious war remains. From the AP:

"KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- A ground-breaking Afghan television host whose Western style drew praise from youthful fans and condemnation from Muslim clerics may have been slain with involvement from her own brothers, police have said.

Shaima Rezayee, 24, who tossed aside her burqa for Western dress and became a host on an MTV-style music show, knew her life was in danger, according to a radio interview she gave not long before she was shot in the head at her Kabul home Wednesday.

Her slaying highlights the struggle between urban young people and their conservative elders for the future of Afghanistan and its Islamic values."

I blame the liberal Afghani media. They just went too far in letting her wear Western clothing, and the result has been-- to paraphrase White House spokesmonkey Scott McClellan-- irreparable damage to their reputation and the death of innocent people.

Three and a half years after we invaded and women are being killed for immodesty? Shot in the head for bucking fundamentalist law? In a country we were ostensibly democratizing? It's absolutely insane.

Demagoguing 'Star Wars'

No, I haven't seen the new movie. Yes, I've seen the previous five (including the two other lousy prequels). No, I'm not a rabid fan. I don't know anything about the books or the post-Return universe. I don't collect toys. Iwasn't even searching for Star Wars info when I came across this article from the Weekly Standard. It was just too weird to ignore.

There's been a small dust-up over the "politics" of the latest movie. But just by merit of being a Gen-Xer, I guess, I know that Lucas had envisioned nine movies from the start, and had it all mapped out. Mostly mapped out, anyway. And it's at least apparent that the major plot lines have been in his head for thirty years or so. Therefore it seems a bit silly to suggest that he's made some piece of leftist propaganda.

But that's not why I'm writing this. The Standard article is from 2002, and it interests me for two reasons. First, the conservative author is making a case (albeit sorta tongue-in-cheek) for the Empire-- that's the bad guys, if you needed to know. Second, it's a fascinating microcosm of the arguments that have been floating around the liberal meme-o-sphere since last year's election regarding "what in the hell are Republicans thinking these days?"

The answer to that second question-- judging from the article and the silly caricature of the author (which pretty much begs for jokes about homoeroticism)-- is just the sort of thing that's led me to describing these fools as neo-fascists. Simply put, it's because they really admire fascism. More specifically, it's because they have a committment not to limited government, fiscal responsibility and personal freedom, but to taking and maintaining power. Truth, liberty, religion and individual responsibility aren't values, but means to an end. To cite a bit of Ambrose Bierce:

Christian, n. One who believes that the New Testament is a divinely inspired book admirably suited to the spiritual needs of his neighbors.

That could explain why so many 21st century Republicans are white, male, and greedy-- if not necessarily bright. After all, justice isn't something to fight for when you've got the upper hand.

UPDATE: One last thought. The right loves to attack the left for 'moral relativism.' But one of the more widely publicized lines in the latest Star Wars flick is "Only the Sith [that would be the bad guys] speak in absolutes." Sort of like saying theft is theft, whether you're a beggar stealing a loaf of bread or a CEO stealing a few million from your investors.

Reagan appointee calls for Bush impeachment

Paul Craig Roberts was an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Ronald Reagan. He is currently funded by two very conservative groups, the John M. Olin Foundation and the Hoover Institution. And he acknowledges the grave consequences of Bush's policies. No Republican I know will do more than roll his/her eyes at my suggestion that the future of America is at stake. Will they listen to one of their own? His rhetoric is much more aggressive than mine has been. Will that just earn him the familiar accusations of being "unhinged?"

Here's what Roberts has to say (full piece through link above, and it's a must-read):

"George W. Bush and his gang of neocon warmongers have destroyed America’s reputation. It is likely to stay destroyed, because at this point the only way to restore America’s reputation would be to impeach and convict President Bush for intentionally deceiving Congress and the American people in order to start a war of aggression against a country that posed no threat to the United States.

America can redeem itself only by holding Bush accountable.

As intent as Republicans were to impeach President Bill Clinton for lying about a sexual affair, they have a blind eye for President Bush’s far more serious lies. Bush’s lies have caused the deaths of tens of thousands of people, injured and maimed tens of thousands more, devastated a country, destroyed America’s reputation, caused 1 billion Muslims to hate America, ruined our alliances with Europe, created a police state at home, and squandered $300 billion dollars and counting."

NYT: Abuse not just for Iraqis

Principled Republicans in Congress better start listening to their consciences soon. While the likes of Scott McClellan and Rush Limbaugh are demanding "nice" stories about our military policies, horrific news keeps coming to light. Our fiscal situation steadily worsens, and our reputation abroad is on the verge of taking another pounding in light of the latest revelations. It's time for the administration to stop denying that there's a pattern of abuse-- their blithe disregard for reality and consequences threatens the future of our republic.

"Even as the young Afghan man was dying before them, his American jailers continued to torment him.

The prisoner, a slight, 22-year-old taxi driver known only as Dilawar, was hauled from his cell at the detention center in Bagram, Afghanistan, at around 2 a.m. to answer questions about a rocket attack on an American base. When he arrived in the interrogation room, an interpreter who was present said, his legs were bouncing uncontrollably in the plastic chair and his hands were numb. He had been chained by the wrists to the top of his cell for much of the previous four days.

Mr. Dilawar asked for a drink of water, and one of the two interrogators, Specialist Joshua R. Claus, 21, picked up a large plastic bottle. But first he punched a hole in the bottom, the interpreter said, so as the prisoner fumbled weakly with the cap, the water poured out over his orange prison scrubs. The soldier then grabbed the bottle back and began squirting the water forcefully into Mr. Dilawar's face.

"Come on, drink!" the interpreter said Specialist Claus had shouted, as the prisoner gagged on the spray. "Drink!"

At the interrogators' behest, a guard tried to force the young man to his knees. But his legs, which had been pummeled by guards for several days, could no longer bend. An interrogator told Mr. Dilawar that he could see a doctor after they finished with him. When he was finally sent back to his cell, though, the guards were instructed only to chain the prisoner back to the ceiling.

"Leave him up," one of the guards quoted Specialist Claus as saying.

Several hours passed before an emergency room doctor finally saw Mr. Dilawar. By then he was dead, his body beginning to stiffen. It would be many months before Army investigators learned a final horrific detail: Most of the interrogators had believed Mr. Dilawar was an innocent man who simply drove his taxi past the American base at the wrong time."

The cost of war

Salon rounds up some disturbing statistics about the Bush brand of fiscal conservatism. The richest country in the world is skating on pretty thin ice-- and you can imagine how serious it is when the Heritage Foundation starts agreeing with the Brookings Institution on matters of fiscal policy.

The U.S. has already spent $320 billion on all military operations since September 11, 2001, according to a Congressional Research Service analysis -- nearly as much as the $350 billion (adjusted for inflation) spent on the Korean war effort. The fighting is "lasting longer, and is more intense, and the cost to keep troops in the theater of operations is proving to be much greater than anyone anticipated," wrote Democratic Rep. John Spratt of South Carolina in a recent report, according to the Christian Science Monitor. Not only does the war in Iraq grow more expensive by the month, the cost of materials and maintenance increases the longer that the fighting is sustained. How high will the cost go? According to the Congressional Budget Office, possibly as high as $600 billion by 2010, if operations continue at the same rate.

Needless to say, war expenses have added several bricks to an already huge pile of federal debt, now estimated at $45 trillion by David Walker, the Comptroller General. At a meeting on Tuesday, Walker and economic analysts from the Heritage Foundation and the Brookings Institute agreed that drastic reductions in spending are required to avert a major economic crisis, one on the scale of Argentina's collapse in 2001. By 2040, the only way to balance the budget, they concluded, would be to reduce federal spending by 60 percent, mostly from programs such as Medicare and Social Security -- or to increase taxes to more than two times the present rate."

Friday, May 20, 2005

Newsweek's Quran story old hat

Funny how even Fearless Leader has now jumped on board the anti-Newsweek bandwagon, accusing the magazine of being responsible for the deaths of people in the Middle East. Not "funny ha ha," but "funny I think I'm gonna puke." As many of us know, stories about the desecration of the Quran have been out there for a while. Like three years, courtesy of those radical lefties at the Red Cross. CNN has the story:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The International Committee of the Red Cross gathered "credible" reports about U.S. personnel at the Guantanamo Bay naval base disrespecting the Quran and raised the issue with the Pentagon several times, a group spokesman said Thursday.

Simon Schorno said the allegations were made by detainees to Red Cross representatives who visited the detention facility throughout 2002 and 2003.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Thursday the Pentagon in 2003 issued strict guidelines on how U.S. personnel should handle the Quran.

Schorno said the Red Cross heard no more allegations about mishandling of the Quran after the guidelines were issued.

Boucher said the United States works closely with the Red Cross and acknowledged the group "had heard some concerns about the handling of Qurans, which it shared with the U.S."

Senate Committee rewrites history.

And by history, I mean something that happened two days ago. The official site of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental affairs has links to the testimony of all witnesses but one-- MP George Galloway, who gave Minnesota Republican Norm Coleman the smackdown. Disgraceful.

Santorum: Master Baiter

Yesterday on the senate floor, Rick "Spreading" Santorum compared Democrats to Hitler. This is the sort of thing that the right howls about liberals doing-- even when they haven't done it (e.g., last year's phony MoveOn attack and Bob Byrd's semi-recent quotation of a historian writing about Germany in the thirties). Yet, here it is:


And there's even some fun video courtesy of Crooks and Liars:

Video-WMP Video-Quick Time

Naturally, when Santorum saw an opportunity to falsely accuse Robert Byrd of calling Republicans Nazis, he leapt at the chance:

"Senator Byrd's inappropriate remarks comparing his Republican colleagues with Nazis are inexcusable. These comments lessen the credibility of the senator and the decorum of the Senate. He should retract his statement and ask for pardon." March, 2005

Thursday, May 19, 2005

The $8.8 billion missing from Iraq

This has made several of the larger blogs, and I wouldn't have caught it, since I haven't been checking Huffington's new blog much. Al Franken effectively sets up another round of "where's the outrage" that won't ever see the light of day under the Republican government. From his post:

Meanwhile, the Coalition Provisional Authority, which we ran, has lost 8.8 billion dollars. By lost, I mean it’s totally unaccounted for. Not only has Congress not "looked into" this $8.8 billion and who might have it now, but it seems that some members are completely unaware that this staggering sum, which was supposed to go toward rebuilding Iraq, is missing. The Sunday morning after the White House Correspondents dinner, I ran into Senator George Allen at a brunch thrown by John McLaughlin and his wife. Allen had never heard of the missing $8.8 billion, or at least that's what he told me. And he's on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Stunned, I went up to Susan Page of USA Today and her husband Carl Lubsdorf of the Dallas Morning News, two veteran Washington political reporters, and told them about Allen’s ignorance of this huge scandal, which has no doubt contributed to hatred for America and the deaths of our troops. There’s less electricity in Iraq now than there was before we invaded Iraq.

Turns out that Page and Lubsdorf had also never heard of the unaccounted-for $8.8 billion. For a moment I thought that maybe I had been imagining things.

Then I spotted my friend Norm Ornstein, scholar from the American Enterprise Institute. "Would you believe it if Norm Ornstein told you about the $8.8 billion?" I asked Susan and Carl.


I brought Norm over, and indeed I had not been imagining things. "It was a huge story," Norm told them.

"Was it in the New York Times?" Carl asked Norm.

"Yes," Norm assured him.

What in God’s name is going on?

Maybe Bush IS the heir to Reagan

Back in the wild and wacky eighties, there was no shortage of criticism that the Reagan administration was more than happy to deal with brutal regimes for the sake of short-term political gain. This week, Bush demonstrated his willingness to do just the same. Again. From The Nation:

"Such people must be shot in the forehead," Uzbekistan dictator Islam Karimov once said of political dissidents. "If necessary, I'll shoot them myself." When not personally gunning down his opposition, Karimov keeps busy by instructing his security forces to boil, rape or asphyxiate political prisoners.

Luckily for Karimov, he's a key US ally in the war on terror. The brutal events of last week only confirmed that awful reality. For months the Uzbek government had incarcerated 23 businessmen in the eastern city of Andijan on trumped-up charges of supporting an obscure Islamist group. Last week, militants stormed the prison and freed the prisoners. When thousands of demonstrators, emboldened by the jail break, assembled in Andijan's town square to protest their country's climate of repression, corruption and poverty, Karimov travelled to the city and instructed his soldiers to open fire on the crowd. Violence soon spread to the border with Kyrgyzstan, as soldiers allegedly targeted women and children. Anywhere from a few hundred to 745 people are reported dead.

The Bush Administration's response to the butchery was both comical and sad. "We have some concerns about human rights in Uzbekistan, but we are concerned about the outbreak of violence, particularly by some members of a terrorist group freed from prison," Scott McClellan said. "The people of Uzbekistan want to see more representative and democratic government, but that should come through peaceful means, not through violence."

How peaceful change will occur when the US has supplied Karimov with $500 million in military aid and waived human rights requirements for military and non-proliferation assistance is anyone's guess.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Bush asks to deliver commencement address at evangelical college. Professors say "no thanks."

From the Washington Times comes this story of a rift in the evangelical community. And some good news for our republic. Isn't it tragic that a committment to Christian values is so rare these days from Christian activists?

WASHINGTON -- One-third of the professors at an evangelical Christian college in Grand Rapids, Mich., are taking out a large ad in a local newspaper Saturday to protest President Bush's commencement speech.

"As Christians, we are called to be peacemakers and to initiate war only as a last resort," the ad will say. "We believe your administration has launched an unjust and unjustified war in Iraq."

The 130 signatories, which include 20 staff members, work at Calvin College. Founded in 1876 as a school for pastors of the Christian Reformed Church, it now is one of the nation's flagship schools for a Christian liberal-arts education.

"No single political position should be identified with God's will," says the ad, which also chastises the president for "actions that favor the wealthy of our society and burden the poor."

Christians are to be characterized by love and gentleness, it adds, but "we believe that your administration has fostered intolerance and divisiveness and has often failed to listen to those with whom it disagrees."

Moreover, says the letter, set to run in the Grand Rapids Press, the Bush administration's environmental policies "have harmed creation," and it asks the president "to re-examine your policies in light of our God-given duty to pursue justice with mercy."

Frist nailed on filibuster

From Think Progress (emphasis theirs):

This morning on the floor of the Senate, Sen. Chuck Schumer asked Majority Leader Bill Frist a simple question:

SEN. SCHUMER: Isn’t it correct that on March 8, 2000, my colleague [Sen. Frist] voted to uphold the filibuster of Judge Richard Paez?

Here was Frist’s response:

The president, the um, in response, uh, the Paez nomination - we’ll come back and discuss this further. … Actually I’d like to, and it really brings to what I believe - a point - and it really brings to, oddly, a point, what is the issue. The issue is we have leadership-led partisan filibusters that have, um, obstructed, not one nominee, but two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, in a routine way.

Think Progress adds that Paez' nomination had been pending for four years before Frist opted for the filibuster. What an asshole.

UPDATE: Sweet, sweet, video from Crooks 'n Liars! Video-WMP 3megs. Seriously, this guy is such a dick it's incredible.

Arms race, anyone?

After the enormous success of Star Wars... oh, wait. we spent more than a hundred billion on that and have nothing to show for it. Hmmm.... Anyway, administration is pretty keen on a new military boondoggle that the rest of the world will undoubtedly be thrilled about. And they've already spent billions on the program. You know, a nuclear arsenal that could wipe out mankind several times over probably really isn't enough when you think about it. From the disturbing NYT story:

"We haven't reached the point of strafing and bombing from space," Pete Teets, who stepped down last month as the acting secretary of the Air Force, told a space warfare symposium last year. "Nonetheless, we are thinking about those possibilities."

In January 2001, a commission led by Donald H. Rumsfeld, then the newly nominated defense secretary, recommended that the military should "ensure that the president will have the option to deploy weapons in space."

It said that "explicit national security guidance and defense policy is needed to direct development of doctrine, concepts of operations and capabilities for space, including weapons systems that operate in space."

Buchanan: Conservatism is facing implosion

Whatever you think of Pat Buchanan, he's a guy what sticks to his guns. And he sees the fundamentalists as being responsible for the fall of the Republican party-- simply put, because the vast majority of Americans (and Christians) disagree with the group that's taken the helm of the GOP. From Salon:

By most measures, partisans on the religious right -- sure, let's go ahead and start calling them Christianists -- ought to be feeling pretty good about themselves right now. They own the White House. They dominate Congress. Their party -- if not their particular wing of it -- controls the Supreme Court, and before long they'll have that, too.

So why is Pat Buchanan feeling so blue? In an interview in today's Washington Times, the former presidential candidate says the conservative movement has "passed into history." "It doesn't exist anymore as a unifying force," Buchanan says. "There are still a lot of people who are conservative, but the movement is now broken up, crumbled, dismantled."

Buchanan is unhappy with all the infighting within the Republican Party, but he's unhappier still about this: Conservatives, he says, may have lost the culture war. "We say we won a great victory by defeating gay marriage in 11 state-ballot referenda in November," he says. "But I think in the long run, that will be seen as a victory in defense of a citadel that eventually fell."

What's most interesting about Buchanan's comments, however, is the reason he offers for the right's "loss." It's not that the media or liberal politicians or God knows who else is overpowering the will of the American people; it's that a majority of Americans simply don't agree with the Christianist agenda. Moderate Republican leaders, Buchanan says, are "indifferent" to the moral issues that matter to religious Republicans "because they see them -- and correctly -- as no longer popular, no longer the majority positions that they used to be."

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Cookin' up the nuclear option

From the Rampaging COW comes a bit of old-timer wisdom Charlie Cook-style. As an intro, I'll say that I thought the Dems were looking pretty astute in having Reid offer some potential ways to compromise, and that Frist was being all-too-predictable by swatting the offers aside (and thereby kissing fundamentalist butt, even as the Dems look ever stronger to an increasingly ill-at-ease public). But Cook has taken a bite out of the Sandwich by pointing out what should have been obvious to me-- maybe the GOP was never serious to begin with. Here's a taste of what Cook has to say:

"But when legislators can't legislate, they cease to serve a useful purpose. Whether a Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal, each member of the Senate came to the body to enact laws and serve their constituents. Shutting down the chamber would not allow them to serve either purpose.

While conservative and liberal activists outside the Senate yearn for a showdown, members of the institution will find themselves under enormous pressure from each other and from those interested in seeing other issues move forward to reach some kind of agreement to prevent the place from blowing up.

The pressure on Republicans will be that they are now well on the way to having a year in which they will get little, if any, credit for any legislative accomplishments and instead will be remembered for controversies
over filibusters, Terri Schiavo and House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas. Overhauls of bankruptcy and class-action lawsuits have been overshadowed and progress on the energy bill and other badly needed
legislation is being threatened by the Senate's, media's and activists' preoccupation with going nuclear. Republicans need to get the train back on track and focus the spotlight on issues that affect voters' daily lives,
instead of on partisan fights over inside baseball and culture wars.

Democrats have seized the higher ground on a number of issues since the Nov. 2 elections and have succeeded in framing Republicans as arrogant and out of touch. But they are coming under pressure to build on those gains rather than run the risk of being labeled obstructionists -- a charge that was a contributing factor in last year's defeat of former Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D. -- by pushing too hard on this one fight."

All right, so I've been guilty of what a lot of bloggers have-- resenting the elaborate courtship dance of the Senate in favor of advocating a fighting stance. At the same time, it's difficult for me to take Cook's arguments at face value this time. I admire his work, and look to him as an experienced voice of the insider. But this time his argument leaves out a whole lot of evidence. Witness the recent military "base realignment," which takes blue state jobs and moves them to the red states-- odd to say the least, since it was New York that was attacked and not Sorghum, Mississippi. Not to mention what looks like punishment of both moderate conservatives and conciliatory Dems in the way the chips are falling. Witness the consistent GOP policy of steamrolling would-be conciliators of either stripe. The only thing that an extended hand of friendship has earned moderate Republicans or conservative Democrats is a bloody stump. And some chumps (I'm looking at you, McCain) are still buying it.

Cook's a smart guy, and obviously much more experienced than I, but I can't help but think that he's being too charitable toward a GOP that has shown itself -- time and time again-- to forsake its professed values in the name of holding on to power.

Example: (I'm taking reader BL's word for this, and want to acknowledge his contribution) Senator Mitch McConnell started using the term "Byrd Option" to refer to the nuclear option on Fox News Sunday this last weekend. Would the GOP be testing new names for the nuclear option (coined by Trent Lott, just in case anyone doesn't know) if they were just waiting for a chance to drop the argument?

UPDATE: I haven't linked to Talking Point memo in quite a while. It's been pretty disappointing for at least the last month-- wimpy guest-bloggers, and Marshall spending too much time with his latest business enterprise. But today he wrote an excellent piece on the nuclear option. Here's the link.

Action Alert: Send a message to Tomlinson and the CPB

Here's the post from Common Cause. It's a petition, so you don't even have to write a letter. So get to it, already!

Ask CPB Chairman Tomlinson to Stop Playing Politics with Public Broadcasting

We are deeply concerned about the current direction of the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and its chairman, Kenneth Tomlinson. Sign the petition to tell Chairman Tomlinson that we expect the CPB to defend critical, fact-based reporting and respect the editorial independence of public broadcasting.

British MP slams GOP

I was lucky enough to hear a clip of his speech. If I come across one, I'll be sure to post it here. In the meantime, this is a must-read.

George Galloway, a member of the House of Commons, really socked it to the GOP today before a Senate Committee Hearing. The thing is, he's being checked out for involvement in the UN "oil-for-food" program that apparently succeeded in preventing Saqddam from buying WMDs, but wound up allowing his regime to smuggle oil out of the country and keep the proceeds after paying a kickback to those who looked the other way. Only it's starting to look like the US was the most corrupt party involved.

But this is more about Galloway's speech, which is brilliant, on-target, and correct-- whether he turns out to have been part in the corruption or not. So it's two stories in one. First is a British MP teaching American Dems how to talk to neo-fascists. Second is yet another tale of the right-wing's participation in a corporate scandal. Enjoy!

UPDATE: (Courtesy of Crooks and Liars)

VIdeo-Real Audio


With great power comes great responsibility.

It might be from Spider-Man, but it's a good thing to remember. Media Matters has decided to remind the New York Times of just that in an open letter. Good stuff. Here's an excerpt:

"As the Times' editors must understand, your paper occupies a unique place in American journalism, with an ability to set the news agenda and the larger political agenda that is unparalleled among news organizations, even those with vastly larger audiences. This power confers upon you a particular obligation to act responsibly and uphold the highest standards of your profession. We applaud you for looking to "find ways to present more contrarian and unexpected viewpoints in our news pages." We hope that your concern that the paper's perceived liberal viewpoint on its editorial pages not undermine the credibility of its news coverage will not translate into hiring conservative ideologues to report the news, which would serve neither the organization nor Times readers. Your call for diverse viewpoints is laudable, but, as you know, not all debates have two equally valid "sides," and readers should be able to rely on the Times to make those critical distinctions.

This is especially important now, at a time when the current administration has, for all intents and purposes, declared open war on the very idea of an independent press. The administration's conservative allies have simultaneously endeavored to impose a post-modern ideology of doctrinaire relativism on the media, so that all news is seen as ideological and there is no common set of facts on which we can all agree. In this context, the "he said-she said" trap into which the Times and other news organizations so regularly fall becomes particularly pernicious."

I love these guys.

More reports from the Libertarian front

Yesterday, I linked to a piece by Art SIlber that garnered much attention on liberal blogs. Today, I'm doing the same because he's written another excellent piece on the same topic- the suppression of the media by this administration. I'd toss in my two cents, but there's no need. Highly recommended reading.

From the post:

"Facts and reality again reasserted themselves for a moment with the Newsweek story—and the hawks have convinced themselves that a retraction will make the undeniable reality vanish, still another time.

And so it might, at least in their own minds. They will be able to return to the fables with which they comfort themselves. But in the meantime, in the real world, people continue to die, people continue to suffer horrible injury, our own troops continue to be brutalized by what they are asked to do, and more and more people throughout the world grow to resent and hate the United States.

Refusing to face and deal with facts carries a tragically high price. That price is exacted from all of those who are the victims of our actions abroad. Victims know what has happened to them, and they know why, and they know who did it.

And they talk. Word gets out. One story in Newsweek doesn’t matter. The truth, indeed, is out there—but Bush and his associates will continue to deny it, their enablers will continue to deny it, and our media will continue to deny it."

McCain kisses soul goodbye

Senator John McCain, just about the only Republican out there that Democrats trust any more, has joined the dark side:

"McCain, speaking on ABC's "This Week," said he has not seen any evidence that the Bush administration manipulated evidence, but admitted that "certain serious mistakes [were] made."

"But I do not believe that the Bush administration decided that they would set up a scenario that gave us the rationale for going into Iraq," the Arizona Republican said."

No, McCain has been toeing the line and blaming the intelligence community. It's well-known that McCain has presidential hopes for 2008. And it's well-known that he's the least-favorite Republican of the kingmakers and their lackeys. After all, they really piled on in 2000, and the same folks are holding the reins today. So it's safe to say that his odds of earning the nomination aren't good at all.

That said, I suspect that McCain thinks he's opting for political expedience in the hope of doing important things later on. It's just that there probably isn't a 'later on' for the Arizona Senator. I'm afraid that he's sacrificing his integrity for nothing, and contributing to the further slide to the right of the GOP.

Olbermann/Conyers challenge White House

And apparently, so does the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Which shows how potentially dangerous it is to the administration when a high-level official goes 'off-message.' From Olbermann's post:

"Last Thursday, General Richard Myers, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Donald Rumsfeld’s go-to guy whenever the situation calls for the kind of gravitas the Secretary himself can’t supply, told reporters at the Pentagon that rioting in Afghanistan was related more to the on-going political reconciliation process there, than it was to a controversial note buried in the pages of Newsweek claiming that the government was investigating whether or not some nitwit interrogator at Gitmo really had desecrated a Muslim holy book.

But Monday afternoon, while offering himself up to the networks for a series of rare, almost unprecedented sit-down interviews on the White House lawn, Press Secretary McClellan said, in effect, that General Myers, and the head of the after-action report following the disturbances in Jalalabad, Lieutenant General Karl Eikenberry, were dead wrong. The Newsweek story, McClellan said, “has done damage to our image abroad and it has done damage to the credibility of the media and Newsweek in particular. People have lost lives. This report has had serious consequences.”

Whenever I hear Scott McClellan talking about ‘media credibility,’ I strain to remember who it was who admitted Jeff Gannon to the White House press room and called on him all those times.

Whenever I hear this White House talking about ‘doing to damage to our image abroad’ and how ‘people have lost lives,’ I strain to remember who it was who went traipsing into Iraq looking for WMD that will apparently turn up just after the Holy Grail will - and at what human cost."

Give credit to Olbermann for finally acknowledging that the GOP's interest lies in undermining "media credibility." And eternal shame to the gutless journalists out there who are rolling over and exposing their bellies to the men who want to stick in the knife.

UPDATE: Michigan Representative John Conyers has done it again-- socking it to the administration quickly and forcefully. What a guy! Here's a link to the letter he wrote:

Admin: Downing Street Memo "Flat out wrong."

The White House's denial of the notorious memo is official. And although spokesmonkey Scott McClellan said the information therein is "flat out wrong," although he says he hasn't actually seen it. Which is odd, because it's available at

Meanwhile, the British government hasn't made any claims that the memo is phony-- but Tony Blair was at the meeting whose minutes constitute the allegation that the US was hell-bent on war and seeking a justification for action that it could present to the public. Prepare to lose another ally.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Justice, Brooklyn style

This just in from the Advancement Project, and it sounds interesting:

Red Hook, Brooklyn- a neighborhood plagued by a cycle of unemployment, poverty and crime- established a community court in 2000. RED HOOK JUSTICE is a one-hour documentary that follows the ups and downs of several defendants and staffers involved in this legal revolution- in which offenders are sentenced to job training, drug counseling and community service instead of jail time. When the Red Hook Community Justice Center opened, it was the first of its kind. Now it is a model for dozens of courts nationwide. With its unique access, RED HOOK JUSTICE captures the first, crucial steps in the Center's life, documenting its successes, failures, and challenges as this experiment unfolds.

RED HOOK JUSTICE will be broadcast nationally on PBS's Independent Lens series on Tuesday May 24th at 10PM (check local listings).

(See the link above for more info at PBS.)

Right-wing turns up the heat on Newsweek

The right-wing blogs are going nuts over Newsweek's story. The thing is, most of us have heard of these allegations long before this week. But here's where the stomach-turning irony comes into the picture-- White House Spokesmonkey Scott McClellan has jumped onboard to fire up the base and keep the bile flowing:

"It's puzzling that while Newsweek now acknowledges that they got the facts wrong, they refused to retract the story," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said. "I think there's a certain journalistic standard that should be met and in this instance it was not."

"The report has had serious consequences," McClellan said. "People have lost their lives. The image of the United States abroad has been damaged."

"It has certainly caused damage to the credibility of the media as well, and Newsweek itself," he added later.

The neo-fascists' conclusion? Newsweek is responsible for America's bad reputation in the Middle East. Just remember this: war doesn't cost people their lives-- the free press does.

Libertarians for a free media

This lengthy (but worthwhile) post has been making the rounds on the blogs this morning. Written by a libertarian, Arthur Silber, it makes the case for a free press. Something you wouldn't think we'd find ourselves fighting for in the 21st century. From the piece:

"Censorship is what they're after, and don't let them tell you otherwise. They announced this goal unmistakably at least a year ago. (Here's the classic, regret-filled formulation: "And here's a question: Freedom of the press, as it exists today (and didn't exist, really, until the 1960s) is unlikely to survive if a majority--or even a large and angry minority--of Americans comes to conclude that the press is untrustworthy and unpatriotic. How far are we from that point?") Of course, they "regret" that censorship might be necessary. It's a terrible shame and all that. But damn it, if magazines like Newsweek ARE GOING TO GET PEOPLE KILLED...well, what can we do? We obviously have to shut them up. They brought it on themselves. It's their own damned fault. Of course, we'd like to have a free press, but THEY'RE GETTING PEOPLE KILLED!"

Indeed, this is what it's all about. The right-wing blogosphere is going bananas over a Newsweek story that they say is "getting people killed." Even though it's been demonstrated time and again that the administration lied to get those solidiers to Iraq in the first place. That's the thing about Bush supporters-- they pride themselves on their flag-waving loyalty to a conservative party that doesn't enact conservative policies.

In this corner, at age 70... Bill Moyers!

Here's some exciting news. Bill Moyers isn't staying mum on the right-wing attempt to turn PBS into yet another propaganda arm of the White House. From The Nation:

"I should put my detractors on notice," declared the veteran journalist who stepped down in January as the host of PBS's Now with Bill Moyers, who recently turned 70. "They might compel me out of the rocking chair and into the anchor chair."

Moyers closed the National Conference on Media Reform in St. Louis on Sunday with his first public response to the revelation that White House allies on the board of directors of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting have secretly been holding PBS in general -- and his show in particular -- to a partisan litmus test.

"I simply never imagined that any CPB chairman, Democrat or Republican, would cross the line from resisting White House pressure to carrying it out for the White House. And that's what (CPB chair) Kenneth Tomlinson has been doing."

Recalling former President Richard Nixon's failed attempt to cut the funding for public broadcasting in the early 1970s, Moyers said, "I always knew that Nixon would be back -- again and again. I just didn't know that this time he would ask to be the chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting."


An audio recording [of Moyers' speech] can be downloaded at:

Or you can watch the video at:

Onward, Christian Warriors!

From the above article:

DULLES, Va. — In an auditorium on America Online's rolling campus, a glorious expanse of the heavens is projected on a big screen. Reggie Evans, a former Redskin running back turned emissary of Christ, has come to spread the Holy Word in the secular corridors of one of the biggest, richest Internet companies in the world. He has brought along some football cards and a stack of Bibles.

About 75 Christian workers listen raptly as Evans advises them to carry out their work as if Jesus were sitting next to them. But when he suggests that they knock on a colleague's cubicle and propose, "Here's a Bible, maybe we can read this together," even the most devout among them know they will not be following his advice.

"My eyes rolled back when I heard that," said Jack Clark, a technical project manager and member of a recently formed employee group called Christians @ AOL, which had invited Evans to speak. "We're not here to convert people."

Pushed primarily by evangelical Christians, faith is finding a growing presence in corporations that for years have been resistant to religious expression, including such giants as AOL Inc., Intel Corp., American Express Co., American Airlines Inc. and Ford Motor Co.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Here, horsey horsey horsey!

I'm overdue in posting this, but we have yet another right-wing activist with a kinky past. This time bestiality (among other things). I grew up in rural Missouri-- plenty of farm animals around. And I can say with all honesty that it never occurred to me to take an animal as a lover. Apparently that statement will only shock conservatives.

From Neal Horsley's appearance on Hannity & Colmes, where he was being questioned about posting doctors' names online-- doctors who perform abortions. One has since been murdered. (I took this from Digby's blog, link above.)

At first, Horsley laughed and said, "Just because it's printed in the media, people jump to believe it."

"Is it true?" Colmes asked.

"Hey, Alan, if you want to accuse me of having sex when I was a fool, I did everything that crossed my mind that looked like I..."

AC: "You had sex with animals?"

NH: "Absolutely. I was a fool. When you grow up on a farm in Georgia, your first girlfriend is a mule."

AC: "I'm not so sure that that is so."

NH: "You didn't grow up on a farm in Georgia, did you?"

AC: "Are you suggesting that everybody who grows up on a farm in Georgia has a mule as a girlfriend?"

NH: It has historically been the case. You people are so far removed from the reality... Welcome to domestic life on the farm..."

Colmes said he thought there were a lot of people in the audience who grew up on farms, are living on farms now, raising kids on farms and "and I don't think they are dating Elsie right now. You know what I'm saying?"

Horsley said, "You experiment with anything that moves when you are growing up sexually. You're naive. You know better than that... If it's warm and it's damp and it vibrates you might in fact have sex with it."

Opposition to judiciary is "about religious belief."

Says who? Says Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council and organizer of "Justice Sunday," which featured a taped speech by Senator Bill Frist. (The event itself was termed a "declaration of religious war" by evangelical leader Jim Wallis.) Perkins was also a host at Thursday's $250/plate rally for corrupt Majority Leader Tom DeLay. James Guckert/Jeff Gannon was also there.

What Perkins writes in a WaPo op-ed:

"Leon Holmes and his wife were put to the test because he wrote an article for a church newsletter about the relationship between husbands and wives based upon Ephesians 5:22-25. Judge Charles Pickering was questioned about a statement he made as the head of the Mississippi Southern Baptist Convention, in which he said that the Bible is an "absolute authority" for human conduct -- a standard that just about any religious person would hold."

The thing is, this shows exactly why these nominees are opposed-- for ignoring the laws of the nation in favor of Biblical law, even if it means depriving citizens of their constitutional rights.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Republicans turn on Bolton

Some prominent Republicans are owning up to what Democrats have known from the start-- John Bolton is a kook, and better suited to a padded cell than a UN corner office. From the UPI story:

"Nine senior U.S. government officials -- some, like Carl Ford, known to be heavyweight Republican politicos and lobbyists -- all nominated by a Republican President and confirmed by a Republican Congress collectively made the argument that John Bolton's record of service and behavior make him "unfit" for the U.N. post. And behind the scenes -- lurking unofficially but offering cryptic signs of their own discomfort with Bolton -- have been former Secretary of State Colin Powell and his deputy, Richard Armitage, and even Brent Scowcroft.

On the record, these three titans of the Republican foreign-policy world will not attack Bolton. They all say he's smart, knows a lot about the U.N. and is qualified. But as Scowcroft so cleverly put it: "What matters most about John Bolton are the instructions he is given -- and whether he 'chooses' to follow them." Suffice it to say that despite an occasional nod to Bolton's intellectual fortitude, none of these three has signed a letter or statement endorsing him -- and privately they have made their concerns known to any senator who asks them."

Hopefully this will bite the adminstration in the ass. They've been their usual on-message selves, and the message was "we're behind Bolton 100%." Funny, because the rest of the world thinks he's a foam-mouthed imbecile.

Wal-Mart set to reap what it's sown.

From the Reuters story:

But lately, the world's biggest retailer has become a lightning rod for critics who contend that it mistreats workers and that the company's low wages force employees to seek government aid in the form of Medicaid health insurance for the poor, food stamps and housing assistance.

Wal-Mart also faces the largest ever U.S. class-action lawsuit on charges that it discriminates against women in pay and promotions.

Last month, Wal-Mart said it was cooperating with a grand jury investigating whether [ex-Vice Chairman Tom] Coughlin misused company funds. Wal-Mart in March said that Coughlin resigned at the company's request over its probe into unauthorized use of corporate gift cards and personal reimbursements.

The Wall Street Journal said Coughlin may have used undocumented expense payments to finance anti-union activities."

Supporting the troops-- GOP style.

This is a disturbing piece on the losing battles veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan face on their return. Think of it as the "culture of fighting for your life."

"He is unable to work and, like many injured veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, was counting on the Army to provide him and his family with medical benefits. But lawyers representing some of those soldiers said the Army is making it difficult.

The Army determined that Twohig was less than 30 percent disabled. In order to maintain his Defense Department benefits, he had to meet the 30 percent level.

The difference is significant: If he loses the benefits, he gets a taxable $12,000 severance payment from the Army and health care through the Department of Veterans Affairs. His family has no health care coverage. If he is 30 percent disabled, though, he gets a monthly military retirement check and he and his family are eligible for health care at military hospitals.

Twohig is appealing the ruling on his disability. Civilian lawyers who handle such appeals say the odds are against him."

Faith through Violence

Yet another example of how loony the fundamentalists are getting these days. Check out this look at a group called FORCE Ministries.

"Our purpose is to impart faith in Christ, instill patterns and principles for victorious Christian duty and ignite individual calling and destiny."

These people really do see themselves at war with the nation.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Lieberman's goodwill all wrong. Again.

Howard Dean: "I'm concerned that every time something happens that is not good for president Bush, he plays this trump card which is terrorism. His whole campaign is based on that notion." (2004)

Joe Lieberman: "I don't think anybody who has any fairness or is in their right mind would think the president or the Secretary of Homeland Security would raise the alert level and scare people for political reasons. That's outrageous." (2004)

Tom Ridge: ""More often than not we were the least inclined to raise it," Ridge told reporters. "Sometimes we disagreed with the intelligence assessment. Sometimes we thought even if the intelligence was good, you don't necessarily put the country on (alert). ... There were times when some people were really aggressive about raising it, and we said, 'For that?' (2005)

So, only the mentally unbalanced would suggest that the GOP is capable of misleading the American public for political gain. Shut up Lieberman, you dumb turd. I wonder if that quote ever garnered any Fox News airtime? By the way-- have you read that Downing Street memo? Grrrr....

Man, those are some expensive shoes, Senator Frist.

More than $200 a pair? Pretty posh. This is the sort of story that can really make your day. A piece of the text:

"Apparently, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist swung by an Allen-Edmonds shoe store today, and like many working families in Tennessee do all the time, picked up two pairs of shoes totaling $530. What he didn’t realize, however, was that the Allen-Edmonds was located in the same building as the offices of Americans United to Protect Social Security.

So, while Frist shopped, AUPSS staffers got organized. By the time he was done, dozens of protestors had assembled to chant, “Senator Frist Don’t Privatize” and “Hands Off My Social Security.” He doesn’t look like he’s having a good time."

Follow the link above for photos of Frist looking pensive. Several astute commenters point out that he opted not to buy shoes by the manufacturer in his own state: Johnston & Murphy. Hey, I own a pair of those! Oh, and you can't blame the protestors for looking pretty smug in these shots.

Action Alert: support Kraft's stance against fundamentalism

What are the Gay Games? Beats the hell out of me. But Kraft is a sponsor of them, and therefore the target of a fundamentalist group. Take a minute to write a letter of support by following the link above.

With so many evangelicals openly talking about their "war" with the rest of America, we'd better start putting up a fight. This sort of grassroots activism on the part of the right is how we've gotten into this pickle, and it doesn't take much for liberals to do the same. So what are you waiting for?

Republicans under attack!

Unbelievable. Fox News hit a new low by running a banner that read "RNC Headquarters Evacuated" during that false alarm air-raid business this week. No mention of the fact that DNC Headquarters were evacuated at the same time. What a pack of assholes.

More contempt from South America

More news you won't see in our papers:

This week saw leaders of the Latin American and Arab worlds meet in a historic summit in Brazil - and the US was denied even the courtesy of observer status. Washington is outraged, fearing that this was more than just a diplomatic slight: it sees it as the latest gesture of defiance from the two regions that bear the deepest grudge over recent US foreign policy.

The Summit of South American-Arab Countries, which concluded on Wednesday and was attended by Iraqi president Jalal Talabani, furthered Latin America's drive to strengthen relationships away from the United States. Brazilian President Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva led moves by South American states to cement alliances outside the US, which has traditionally held the South on a short leash economically. . .

. . . Washington's most throbbing Latin American headache takes the form of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez. Birns believes Chavez, a man who has publicly called President Bush a "dickhead", was "instrumental in orchestrating the summit".

Introducing the honorable Senfronia Coleman

This speech, by Texas State Representative Senfronia Coleman, is spreading across the blogs like crazy. And with good reason. It's a fantastic bit of oratory, and as far as you can get from the hate-fueled screechings of the fundamentalist right. Here's a sample (full speech available at the above link):

Let's look at what this amendment does not do: It does not give one Texas citizen meaningful tax relief. It does not reform or fully fund our education system. It does not restore one child to CHIP, who was cut from health insurance last session. It does not put one dime into raising Texas' Third World access to health care. It does not do one thing to care for or protect one elderly person or one child in this state. In fact, it does not even do anything to protect one marriage.

Members, this bill is about hate and fear and discrimination. I know something about hate and fear and discrimination. When I was a small girl, white folks used to talk about "protecting the institution of marriage" as well. What they meant was if people of my color tried to marry people of Mr. Chisum's color, you'd often find the people of my color hanging from a tree. That's what the white folks did back then to "protect marriage." Fifty years ago, white folks thought inter-racial marriages were a "threat to the institution of marriage." Members, I'm a Christian and a proud Christian. I read the good book, and do my best to live by it. I have never read the verse where it says, "gay people can't marry." I have never read the verse where it says, "though shalt discriminate against those not like me." I have never read the verse where it says, "let's base our public policy on hate and fear and discrimination." Christianity to me is love and hope and faith and forgiveness-not hate and discrimination.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

ABC News: "Whatever."

There's been a lot of grumbling on the left over the fact that-- rather than covering actual news-- the media has been obsessing over some woman in Georgia who got nervous about her wedding. ABC's daily news roundup "The Note" (often cited as a standard morning ritual for journalists) acknowledges that the press is full of lazy goofs only concerned with "pure unadulterated entertainment." But doesn't really care.

"Brides gotta run, planes gotta stray, and cable news networks gotta find a way to fill a lot of programming hours as cheaply as possible. . .

We say with all the genuine apolitical and non-partisan human concern that we can muster that the death and carnage in Iraq is truly staggering.

And/but we are sort of resigned to the Notion that it simply isn't going to break through to American news organizations, or, for the most part, Americans.

Democrats are so thoroughly spooked by John Kerry's loss —- and Republicans so inspired by their stay-the-course Commander in Chief —- that what is hands down the biggest story every day in the world will get almost no coverage. No conflict at home = no coverage."

I like Ike

David Sirota came across this bit of presidential insight that's guaranteed to make you long for the days when Republicans actually worked for the good of the nation.

"Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are [a] few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid."
- President Dwight D. Eisenhower, 11/8/54

Sorry, Voinovich-- half a conscience doesn't count.

I suppose it's something, but in the end it probably won't make any difference. Ohio Senator Voinovich's pleasant statement today about Bolton being an inappropriate nominee for the UN sounded good, but didn't come with any teeth.

Voinovich said that "[Bolton is] the poster child for what someone in the diplomatic corps should not be,'' and `Bolton would have been fired if he worked for a major corporation.''

But it doesn't really matter. Although Voinovich couldn't live with himself for supporting Bolton, his knack for self-preservation won the day. Voinovich won't be the lone Republican to keep the nomination from surviving the committee, and Voinovich gets to pass the buck. Bolton will almost certainly win confirmation on the Senate floor, but Voinovich can keep telling himself that he did the right thing.

The result? America's reputation will continue to sink around the world, we'll find it even harder to find allies in the future, and our reputation as a nation that cries wolf will be cemented.

UPDATE: Sounds like it's official. Bolton will go to the Senate floor with "no recommendation." Some bloggers seem to be hoping that this means more of Bolton's insanity will come to light and that Dems have the edge here. I doubt it-- if there's anything this administration does competently, it's stonewalling and concealing information.

GOP Cavalcade of Perversion marches on....

Is it really that difficult for the administration to find someone who doesn't have a history of bizarre-- and sometimes illegal-- sexual pecadilloes? The latest entry into the ring is Dr. W. D. Hager. Very right-wing, very evangelical, very kinky. Oh, and he loves to act the martyr, too! From the Nation:

"Back at Asbury, Hager cast himself as a victim of religious persecution in his sermon. "You see...there is a war going on in this country," he said gravely. "And I'm not speaking about the war in Iraq. It's a war being waged against Christians, particularly evangelical Christians. It wasn't my scientific record that came under scrutiny [at the FDA]. It was my faith.... By making myself available, God has used me to stand in the breach.... Just as he has used me, he can use you."

Up on the dais, several men seated behind Hager nodded solemnly in agreement. But out in the audience, Linda Carruth Davis--co-author with Hager of Stress and the Woman's Body, and, more saliently, his former wife of thirty-two years--was enraged. "It was the most disgusting thing I've ever heard," she recalled months later, through clenched teeth.

According to Davis, Hager's public moralizing on sexual matters clashed with his deplorable treatment of her during their marriage. Davis alleges that between 1995 and their divorce in 2002, Hager repeatedly sodomized her without her consent. Several sources on and off the record confirmed that she had told them it was the sexual and emotional abuse within their marriage that eventually forced her out. "I probably wouldn't have objected so much, or felt it was so abusive if he had just wanted normal [vaginal] sex all the time," she explained to me. "But it was the painful, invasive, totally nonconsensual nature of the [anal] sex that was so horrible."