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


Saturday, July 30, 2005

Another take on racial profiling

Someone wrote in to Eric Alterman with an idea on how the government might use racial profiling to a worthwhile end:

Accordingly, I propose the IRS abandon its policy of random tax audits of all citizens (reinstated in 2002) and start targeting white males who live in the suburbs. That's where the big-bucks tax cheats are going to be found, not some secretary who lives in the Bronx. Give me the right to issue subpoenas for a Calibration Audit (i.e., each line is checked), both personal and any businesses they manage (this type knows no boundaries) and Ill give you enough money $$$ to properly equip every soldier in Iraq. In a time of war, to oppose profiling for tax law enforcement is tantamount to attacking our troops.

I actually know a couple of well-off, white Republicans who have no problems with racial profiling. I wish it had occurred to me before to drop this suggestion on them. Sadly, I think they'd just laugh it aside. Wealth does have its privileges, after all.

The ongoing failure of the press

DailyKos has a nice piece on the latest trend in political reportage-- feed journalists a story on the condition that they agree not to talk to anyone on the other side. The sad thing is that it seems to be working.

As I wrote earlier this morning, Roll Call's Lauren Whittington wrote a story about the GOP's negative ad campaign against Sen. Byrd.

What's particularly egregious about the Roll Call piece is that her Republican source demanded Whittington not talk to any other sources and she agreed, a gross violation of standard journalistic practices. Furthermore, Whittington failed to disclose that arrangement in the story, which ended up being a one-sided affair at the insistence of the Republicans. Whittington essentially wrote a GOP press release for them in a journalistic publication.

Friday, July 29, 2005

What the right-wing blogs are saying

Just so you know you're not missing anything by skipping the 'fair and balanced' scribblings from the administration's boosters, I'll share this gem from Powerline, where the author of this particular nugget is a guy named 'Hinderaker,' who adopted the nom du blog 'Hindrocket.' Fits rather nicely with my theory of the right-wing's penchant for homoeroticism. Before reading the following, you might want to put something soft and cushiony on your desk-- because your jaw will drop that far:

It must be very strange to be President Bush. A man of extraordinary vision and brilliance approaching to genius, he can't get anyone to notice. He is like a great painter or musician who is ahead of his time, and who unveils one masterpiece after another to a reception that, when not bored, is hostile.

I just keep reading and re-reading those sentences, and trying to think of a word that describes it. 'Stupefying' is as close as I can get. This from Time magazine's 'Blog of the Year 2004.' The most amazing thing is that it was written yesterday. Yesterday.

DeLay: off the front pages, but still plenty evil

From Salon (haven't swiped much from them lately):

As we noted in War Room, Rep. Henry Waxman had some pretty strong words regarding the energy bill that sailed through the House yesterday. "This bill is simply a failure," Waxman said. "It's a huge waste of money."

Apparently he was just getting started. Today, Waxman went after House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, accusing him of sneaking in a $1.5 billion fund for oil and natural gas drilling -- after bill negotiations had ceased.

According to a Reuters report, Waxman said that DeLay's measure would effectively direct the Energy Department to "contract with a corporation that is constructed as a consortium." The "consortium" in question happens to be based in Sugar Land -- DeLay's home district. As if the House Majority Leader's alleged cronyism wasn't enough, one of the members of this consortium happens to be, you guessed it, Halliburton.

Just another day in Bizarroworld.

John Bolton, the notoriously Type-A ideologue Bush nominated to be UN ambassador, apparently lied to the senate during his confirmation hearings. But if he'd come clean, it would've provided further evidence of his incompetence.

WASHINGTON - John Bolton, President Bush's nominee for U.N. ambassador, neglected to tell Congress he had been interviewed in a government investigation into faulty prewar intelligence that Iraq was seeking nuclear materials in Africa, the State Department said.

Democratic senators said the admission should forestall Bush from using his authority to give Bolton a temporary appointment to the U.N. post, without Senate confirmation, when the Senate goes on vacation in August.

Bolton was interviewed by the State Department inspector general in 2003 as part of a joint investigation with the CIA into prewar Iraqi attempts to buy nuclear materials from Niger, State Department spokesman Noel Clay said Thursday.

His statement came hours after another State Department official said Bolton had correctly answered a Senate questionnaire when he wrote that he had not testified to a grand jury or been interviewed by investigators in any inquiry over the past five years.

For that, Bush is now expected to take his usual course of action when a close associate turns out to be a perjuring numbskull-- promotion!

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Coingate: Noe invested state money in troubled (but connected) gambling firm

Ohio's Coingate scandal reads like a bad political thriller. But then, the same is true of Tom DeLay, "Duke" Cunningham, the career of Karl Rove and Bush, and so on.

COLUMBUS — Tom Noe used state money to try to pump up an online gambling company in which he and other prominent Republicans were investors, records show.

Mr. Noe invested at least $100,000 of the state’s rare-coin money into financially troubled Games Inc., which has plummeted in value in the last year as its CEO Roger Ach II, a politically connected Cincinnati businessman, sought public contracts.

Mr. Noe is among several prominent Republicans who have invested in Games Inc.

Brian Hicks, former chief of staff to Gov. Bob Taft; Bob Bennett, chairman of the Ohio Republican Party [no relation to GOP gambling addict Bill Bennett, OD1 tells me]; former Senate President Stanley Aronoff, and Lucas County Republicans Patrick Kriner and Sally Perz all own shares in the company, records filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission show.

Thanks as always to OD1 for keeping the fresh news coming. He's the man. And this scandal is mind-boggling in its scope, which leads right to the Oval Office.

100 people who are REALLY screwing up America

It's been nice to see Bernard Goldberg get all huffy on the talking head shows when people treat his recent jeremiad against Democrats as anything less than a well-reasoned effort to elevate political discourse. Sadly, it's just another right-wing moneymaking scheme designed to exploit Republican hatred of Democrats for a quick buck.

On the other hand, the link above will take you to a list that actually makes sense (as well as a link to Goldberg's risible list). You'll notice some differences between the two right away-- Goldberg accuses Jimmy Carter of being one of the worst enemies of America. The other list actually puts Osama bin Laden in the top ten. Goldberg seems to have forgotten the villain behind 9/11. Just an oversight, I'm certain. But, to be fair, Goldberg doesn't limit his scorn to Democrats. He also mentions Republican David Duke. You might remember him from headlines in the 1980s. Sheesh, what a turd.

How to look positively presidential, you prick.

This is really something. The phrase 'one-fingered victory salute' might be familiar to some of you, after some old footage of Bush giving the finger to advisor Karen Hughes surfaced last fall.

Well, now that he's prezumadent, he's matured a bit. To the point where a good 'f**k you' isn't something he feels obliged to keep confined to a private moment with some friends. See the video at the link above. Then contemplate LBJ's ability to look civil in public in spite of the fact that he was a seriously foul-mouthed (and pretty damn crude) fellah.

You gotta fight.... for your right... to toooooor-ture!

The first sentence of this NYT story pretty much says it all. Just keep telling yourself-- this isn't a movie, this isn't a movie...

Vice President Dick Cheney is leading a White House effort to block legislation that would regulate the detention, treatment and trials of detainees held by the military.

Amazing, isn't it? Bet you never thought you'd see a statement like that in the United States.

Comedy, Thursday style

How about this? A Letterman Top Ten that's funny, until you start thinking about it too much. Or read my previous post....

Top Ten George W. Bush Solutions For Global Warming

NASA mission to turn down the sun's thermostat

9. Federal subsidies to boost production of Cool Ranch Doritos

8. Fast track Rumsfeld's "Colonize Neptune" proposal

7. Convene Blue-Ribbon Committee to explore innovative ways of ignoring the problem

6. Let Hillary worry about it when she takes over

5. I dunno---tax cuts for the rich?

4. Give the boys at Halliburton 90-billion dollar contract to patch hole in ozone

3. Switch to celsius so scorching 98 becomes frosty 37

2. Keep plenty of Bud on ice

1. Invade Antartica

W gives energy independence the smackdown.

In the same week that House Republicans killed two energy bill provisions that would have required a decreased dependence on foreign oil, it turns out that the administration decided to put the kibbosh on an EPA study that highlighted (get ready for this one) loopholes that have allowed automakers to decrease fuel efficiency standards. So we can expect to send even more money to Middle Eastern regimes that support terrorism.

With Congress poised for a final vote on the energy bill, the Environmental Protection Agency made an 11th-hour decision Tuesday to delay the planned release of an annual report on fuel economy.

But a copy of the report, embargoed for publication Wednesday, was sent to The New York Times by a member of the E.P.A. communications staff just minutes before the decision was made to delay it until next week. The contents of the report show that loopholes in American fuel economy regulations have allowed automakers to produce cars and trucks that are significantly less fuel-efficient, on average, than they were in the late 1980's.

Releasing the report this week would have been inopportune for the Bush administration, its critics said, because it would have come on the eve of a final vote in Congress on energy legislation six years in the making. The bill, as it stands, largely ignores auto mileage regulations.

The executive summary of the copy of the report obtained by The Times acknowledges that "fuel economy is directly related to energy security," because consumer cars and trucks account for about 40 percent of the nation's oil consumption. But trends highlighted in the report show that carmakers are not making progress in improving fuel economy, and environmentalists say the energy bill will do little to prod them.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Motherlode: Crooks & Liars style

A blog that gets about 67,000 visitors a day shows a blog that gets 30 visitors a day (I have an excuse-- no links and no ads) how it's done. This doesn't highlight what a good job they're doing, of course, but how much more attention my blog deserves. (Don't think about that statement too much, just bee-leeeeeve, my brothers and sisters.)

First up, Bill Maher chimes in on Rovegate while talking to Leno ("[Rove] going after the wife.... even the mob doesn't do that, Jay." And that isn't even close to being the best line.):

Video-WMP Video-QT

Second, Colorado GOP Rep. Tancredo tries to explain just how diplomatic and reasonable he was being when he suggested we drop nukes on Mecca (spoiler: when he suggested we nuke 'em, he was being 'taken out of context.'):

Video-WMP Video-QT

Third, a (too brief and propagandistic) clip from a debate between Ohio Democratic hopeful Hackett and GOP shill Schmidt, both hoping for a victory in a Republican-dominated district in a special runoff election to be held on Tuesday. It's lame, but it certainly shows just how creepy it can be when a dimwitted oddball tries to pull off a Martha-Stewart-meets-Condi maneuver:

Video-WMP only

(If you have a little change to spare, make a donation immediately. The site I'm linking to can be trusted.)

Fourth, see how a mom whose kid survived Iraq feels about those who dare to criticize the administration's policies. Tragic. And not just her speech, but her disturbing attempts at looking GOP classy. I guess her mission is to show us how the government doesn't need to pay for military equipment. Which is strange, considering that we spend more on defense than the next nine nations combined... Note how courteous her interlocutor is, in spite of the fact that she won't let him complete a single sentence.


(Yes, they have a better site than I do. But why spend time culling through the chaff when you can head here first for the whole grains?)

First Coingate indictment pending.

OD1 has kept me abreast of the situation, and this item could be just what we need for this scandal to hit the national news. If it does (keep your fingers crossed), we'll have a scandal that effectively calls the entire state GOP of Ohio to task for looting the state treasury. Judging from the evidence the Ohio papers have managed to compile, this should be an open and shut case for Ohio prosecutors. And a big assist for those of us interested in showing the public at large just how corrupt the Republican party is at this point in time.

Not unlike the Gilded Age, we can hope that another Teddy Roosevelt can be born from the ashes-- a reformer and a conservationist who'll end the legacy of 'Republican' being a dirty word. (That's a premature wish on my part, but we can always hope.)

Gov. Bob Taft’s former No. 1 aide could become the first to fall in a mushrooming ethics-and-investment scandal rocking state government.

Prosecutors are prepared to file ethics charges against Brian K. Hicks, Taft’s former chief of staff, if Hicks does not plead guilty by week’s end, according to Columbus City Prosecutor Steve McIntosh.

"We’re looking at filing charges and we’ve had some discussions with his attorneys, but there has been no agreement on a resolution yet," McIntosh told The Dispatch yesterday afternoon. "We’re running up against the statute of limitations. We will file something by the end of the week."

Blair as Bush's lap dog. Errr, sort of...

This is a UK ad from Greenpeace that you would never, ever see aired in America. And considering that it involves a puppet and an oil derrick, it's much more disturbing than it has any right to be.

Check it out.... if you dare. Mwahahahahaaaaa!!!

Rovegate investigator "casting a wide net."

As the right-wing media outlets (and politicians, of course) continue to claim that there's no evidence that anything improper happened in the outing of Valerie Plame, the scope of the investigation suggests otherwise. More than otherwise-- it looks like the entire executive branch is under the microscope, rather than just the president's pee-pee.

The special prosecutor in the CIA leak probe has interviewed a wider range of administration officials than was previously known, part of an effort to determine whether anyone broke laws during a White House effort two years ago to discredit allegations that President Bush used faulty intelligence to justify the Iraq war, according to several officials familiar with the case.

Prosecutors have questioned former CIA director George J. Tenet and deputy director John E. McLaughlin, former CIA spokesman Bill Harlow, State Department officials, and even a stranger who approached columnist Robert D. Novak on the street.

In doing so, special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald has asked not only about how CIA operative Valerie Plame's name was leaked but also how the administration went about shifting responsibility from the White House to the CIA for having included 16 words in the 2003 State of the Union address about Iraqi efforts to acquire uranium from Africa, an assertion that was later disputed.

"I work for $4 million. Plus expenses.... that's another $12 million."

The Coingate story is like a supernova. It's gone from a small, dense mass of corruption to a massive explosion that consumes everything around it. Everything Republican, that is.

The story, which began with GOP fundraiser Tom Noe being granted a large investment account of the state's workers' comp money. That struck many as an odd investment decision, since he's a coin dealer. Then money started disappearing. Lots and lots of money. Tens of millions of dollars, in fact. And when reporters started asking questions about the missing money, things really blew up. Virtually every top-level state official seemed to have already known about the losses and done nothing. And governor Taft was still trying to get favors for Tom Noe from the White House.

But the story continues to grow. This just in, courtesy of OD1.

Besides accusing Maumee coin dealer Thomas W. Noe of pilfering $4 million from a state investment he managed, authorities also are questioning the millions of dollars Noe charged the state in expenses.

"Expenses paid by the coin fund could very well be improperly paid," Attorney General Jim Petro said at a news conference last week. He has declined to elaborate as the investigation continues.

The reported expenses from the $50 million investment in two coin funds Noe managed for the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation total $12.6 million from 1998 through 2004, records show — an amount equivalent to 25 percent of what the bureau allocated to him.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

In spite of W, science is on the march.

Every once in a while, I like to post articles that strike a chord with me for other reasons other than politics. As a horror movie afficianado, I'm very familiar with the well-meaning-but-misguided surgeon who tries to restore the features of a disfigured wife/daughter/lover. There are more than a few such movies out there (perhaps the most notable being Georges Franju's Les Yeux sans Visage).

But now we're looking at a time when such moralistic fables of tampering with nature-- and paying the price-- might start to look pretty hopelessly dated. And the motivation isn't a madman trying to murder others for the sake of his injured wife-- it's trying to help people who've suffered disfigurement through accident or disease avoid a life of depression, shame, and fear.

Now, about those stem-cell researchers who are actually baby-killing madmen trying to produce a master race in test tubes....

TNR: Demanding integrity from the nation's comedians

Whew. There's been some real doo-doo printed by TNR over the last year (and some good stuff, of course), but this is just pitiful. At least it didn't make the print version.

Ever since Jon Stewart's legendary appearance on Tucker Carlson's Crossfire, there seem to have been two promminent interpretations. The first is that Stewart gave the talking head 'news' shows so ubuquitous on cable a richly-deserved shaming. The second is that Stewart is a grandstanding publicity hound who's unfairly trying to de-legitimize the press, and that he's just hiding behind the comedian label. I'm in the first camp, just so you know.

I didn't really get the second idea-- I admit it-- and I really still don't. It seems like missing the forest for the trees on the part of his critics. Take the author's argument that Stewart is obliged to take his position more seriously, andadhere to rigorous journalistic standards. Especially when a guest like Rick Santorum appears on the show.

Stewart would probably say in his defense, as he did on "Crossfire," that "The Daily Show" is a comedy show, not a news show. But what about the above exchange is humorous? Stewart, by all appearances, is trying to ask serious questions.

So, because the interview segment wasn't intentionally comedic, the show doesn't qualify as a comedy? Hey, I think Bill O'Reilly is hilarious-- but he still bills his as a news show. What gives?

Here's what I consider to be the gist of Stewart's argument that The Daily Show shouldn't be held to some elevated standard of journalism: because the endless stream of ostensibly serious reporting that appears on the 24/7 cable channels, that appears in the pages of the nation's newspapers, that appears on countless websites, is trash. The very fact that people feel obliged to chastise a show on Comedy Central for not being more 'newsy' demonstrates the sorry shape of the press. The author laments that Rick Santorum could have finally gotten the grilling he deserves over his extremist views. But that begs the question-- why hasn't Santorum been given that grilling in any other forum anywhere at any time. Simple. Because the mainstream press isn't doing its job.

The sick irony of it all is this: were Stewart the kind of guy who is intent on asking politicos the tough questions and sharing that information with America, he wouldn't have a show on Comedy Central. He'd be in the press corps. And yet, the press corps isn't doing that, either. Shouldn't critics of Stewart first ask themselves why they haven't seen those tough questions from people who actually bill themselves as serious journalists?

Increasing our dependence on foreign oil

This is just the sort of stupefying GOP lunacy that makes me think their days are numbered (assuming the press ever gets word of this to the public). Normally known as the party of hawkish isolationism, pragmatism, and motivated self-interest, congressional Republicans have decided to go against all that and continue to do the bidding of big oil.

In light of the new concern in the scientific community that global warming is worse than previously thought, record prices at the gas pumps, an auto industry that's still pushing gas-guzzling polluters (and losing market share to popular hybrid imports), increased demand from India and China that will continue to drive up oil prices, and the dangerous policy of depending on oil from Middle Eastern states that support terorrism, Congressional Republicans have decided to take their million bucks a year from big oil, and leave the rest of us to fend for ourselves. After all, if you can't afford a tank of gas, it's because God thinks you don't deserve it.

Working furiously to try to strike a deal on broad energy legislation, Congressional negotiators on Monday killed two major provisions aimed at curbing consumption of traditional fossil fuels like oil, natural gas and coal.

House members rejected an effort to incorporate a plan passed by the Senate to require utilities to use more renewable energy like wind and solar power to generate electricity. They also defeated a bid to direct the president to find ways to cut the nation's appetite for oil by one million barrels a day.

Is the Rove shield wall breaking down?

The Daily Howler has a few examples of right-wing mouthpieces beginning to quail in the face of the onrushing journalists who feel compelled to do their jobs.

First is formerly-respectable Arizona Senator John McCain, who actually suggested last week that there was no evidence of wrong-doing on the part of Karl Rove. Or anyone else, for that matter. Then George Stephanopoulos put him on the spot. Let's take a look:

STEPHANOPOULOS (7/24/05): Let’s turn to Karl Rove and the CIA leak investigation. A number of former CIA officers have come out very strongly criticizing this leak, saying it’s endangering national security, endangering our sources, and certainly very unfair to Mrs. Wilson. I want to show you what one of them, Larry Johnson, said at a hearing organized by the Democrats on Friday.

JOHNSON (videotape): I wish there was a Republican of some courage and conviction that would stand up and call the ugly dog the ugly dog that it is. Instead, I watched last night, John McCain on Chris Matthews' Hardball making excuses, being an apologist! Where are these men and women over there with any integrity to stand up and speak out against this?

McCain: Thank you, Larry. (Laughter.) Look, I think that everyone has the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. Two, it's clear that Rove was trying to knock down what he felt were some inaccurate portrayals about Ambassador Wilson's mission to Niger. I don't know much more than that. I do know that this prosecutor is highly regarded. I don't understand why a journalist who hasn't written a word is in jail. A lot of things that I don't understand.

It ain't much, and he's still repeating the false claims that Rove was trying to set the record straight on Wilson. At least he's feeling a little contrite.

Next is reliable GOP shill David Brooks, who shows-- after previously sticking up for Rove-- that he's so full of moral fiber that he'll be regular into the next century. This is what he had to say on Chris Matthews' show:

BROOKS (7/24/05): But listen, the crucial things to this whole event, and it’s kind of been making me sick increasingly over the past week, is that we don’t know any of the crucial answers. If you look at all the stories, there’s like a big ocean of heavy breathing, a tiny little kernel of fact. You know, this is why people hate this business, because we speculate with a small minimum of facts. It’s beginning to remind me of the time a couple of summers ago when we convicted Gary Condit of murder and we just didn’t know what was going on. It could be there’s something serious, it could be there’s nothing. We have no idea yet.

Again, it's not much, but at least they're aware that the 'nothing to see here' tactic is a washout. Wait a minute... Gary Condit?!? I think it's more like Kenneth Starr investigation, on which the GOP was willing to spend tens of millions of dollars-- even when he was coming up with nada.

Back, back, back in time in Iraq

The new constitution being drafted in Iraq should really demonstrate the convictions of this administration and the GOP in spreading freedom around the world, right? Ha. It actually demonstrats their committment to religious law and rolling back legislation that protects traditional minority groups.

Most worrying for women's groups has been the section on civil rights in the draft constitution, which some feel would significantly roll back women's rights under a 1959 civil law enacted by a secular regime.

In the copy obtained by AP on Monday, Article 19 of the second chapter says "the followers of any religion or sect are free to choose their civil status according to their religious or sectarian beliefs."

Shiite Muslim leaders have pushed for a stronger role for Islam in civil law but women's groups argue that could base legal interpretations on stricter religious lines that are less favorable toward women.

GOP set to discredit Plame investigator?

Although the GOP, Fox, and all the usual hacks have been in overdrive trying to distract attention from the misdeeds of Rove (and Libby, Gonzales, Card, probably Bush and Cheney, etc.), first by attacking Joe Wilson. When that didn't work, they did a rush job with their Supreme Court nominee. No dice. Next up? Defame the man investigating the crime:

Meanwhile, Hoekstra's counterpart in the Senate, Republican Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, intends to preside over hearings on the intelligence community's use of covert protections for CIA agents and others involved in secret activities.

The chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence could hold hearings on the use of espionage cover soon after the U.S. Congress returns from its August recess, said Roberts spokeswoman Sarah Little.

Little said the Senate committee would also review the probe of special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who has been investigating the Plame case for nearly two years.

Did you catch that? It's the last sentence in the piece. What do you suppose a Republican-filled Senate Committee will find when it comes to the possible downfall of their administration?

Monday, July 25, 2005

"You finally, really did it! You maniacs!"

I'm having a little trouble believing this one. After all, this administration might be corrupt, incompetent and greedy-- but totally, irrevocably insane?

Note the source on the article. It isn't a left-wing blog, but the print magazine American Conservative. And here's what they have to say:

The Pentagon, acting under instructions from Vice President Dick Cheney's office, has tasked the United States Strategic Command (STRATCOM) with drawing up a contingency plan to be employed in response to another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the United States. The plan includes a large-scale air assault on Iran employing both conventional and tactical nuclear weapons.

Maybe they should run this by a foreign-relations expert or two. I'm no pro, but I can say with some confidence that itwouldn't do much to reduce terrorism or bolster our reputation with the global community...

PS- If you're on a political site and trying to determine whether it's left- or right-leaning, here's a tip: if it features fitness ads for men with half-naked guys who shave their entire bodies and show off their tight asses-- it's a conservative site. General rule of thumb: if it's got homoerotic content, it's run by right-wingers. Just ask Jeff/Jim Gannon/Guckert. I have yet to see a half-naked man on a liberal blog. Much less a liberal blog run by an openly gay man. Makes ya think, don't it?

Misunderestimating the White House.

It seems to be impossible to do, at least when it comes to their corruption. It turns out that the (sort-of) infamous 12-hour gap between Gonzales being told of the need to "preserve" all documents pertinent to the Plame investigation, and Gonzales actually sharing that information. With anyone but White House chief of staff Andy Card, that is. But according to the Carpetbagger, that might have been 12 business hours, but also included an entire weekend.

So, word gets out that a criminal investigation is underway. He calls the White House chief of staff, but otherwise takes no action for another 60 hours or so:

It's not as if the Gonzales notification — on the morning of Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2003 — told Rove & Co. something new. MSNBC told the world about the investigation that Friday night. This means Rove & Co. learned on Friday night that they were being investigated, but weren't formally told to start securing relevant materials until Tuesday morning. In case the MSNBC report wasn't clear enough, a front-page article was published in the Washington Post about the Justice Department's criminal investigation a full 48 hours before WH staffers were told to preserve potentially incriminating evidence.

Quick question-- has anything come to light in the Plame affair that doesn't make the entire administratin look like crooks?

Wall Street: CostCo must be destroyed!

This is mindblowing stuff-- definitely qualifies as a must-read. When I was a business major in college, I had several professors who stressed the importance of being responsible, honest, and good to employees. But there was one professor whose philosophy was 'trim the fat.' In short, fire as many people as you can to concentrate wealth in the hands of a few. What a dick. Apparently his view has become the norm, however:

But not everyone is happy with Costco's business strategy. Some Wall Street analysts assert that Mr. Sinegal is overly generous not only to Costco's customers but to its workers as well.

Costco's average pay, for example, is $17 an hour, 42 percent higher than its fiercest rival, Sam's Club. And Costco's health plan makes those at many other retailers look Scroogish. One analyst, Bill Dreher of Deutsche Bank, complained last year that at Costco "it's better to be an employee or a customer than a shareholder."

Mr. Sinegal begs to differ. He rejects Wall Street's assumption that to succeed in discount retailing, companies must pay poorly and skimp on benefits, or must ratchet up prices to meet Wall Street's profit demands.

Good wages and benefits are why Costco has extremely low rates of turnover and theft by employees, he said. And Costco's customers, who are more affluent than other warehouse store shoppers, stay loyal because they like that low prices do not come at the workers' expense. "This is not altruistic," he said. "This is good business."

Sounds like a win-win situation to me. And they're the fifth largest retailer in the country. At a time when there's a massive backlash against Wal-Mart's newly draconian treatment of its employees (Sam Walton thought more like Sinegal-- but not his greedy heirs). Yet CostCo's stock is on the rise-- and preferred by investors to Wal-Mart these days.

They're profitable and they give Americans good jobs. I imagine what might make business execs so upset about this is that it could start balancing out that 450 to 1 ratio of CEO to worker pay....

Will John McCain EVER learn?

The guy has gone from Mr. Integrity in 2000-- when he was ruthlessly and dishonestly forced out of the presidential race by Bush & Rove's dirty tricks-- to being a caricature of a politician. Now he's all about expediency, kissing the right asses, and carefully considering every word out of his mouth.

Republicans never liked the guy because he had a tendency to buck the party line and follow his conscience. Not only is he still viewed by them as a traitor, but any support he had among Dems and independents has probably evaporated thanks to his new role as Bush's best pal. I mean, who exactly is going to support the 'values' of a guy who's kowtowing to the people who stabbed him in the back? Anyway, here he is on This Week:

McCain comments about how Karl was trying to correct information, and something else innocuous, and then says "I really don't know much about it."

George: You say you don't know much, but wait, we learned this week from Time Magazine's Matt Cooper that he first learned about Mrs. Wilson's involvement from Karl Rove and it's been uncontradicted by Rove and his attorney; and 2nd, we learned that this information (pause) was (pause) classified.

Whether or not that's a crime, it's a violation of the non-disclosure agreement every employee who receives classified information has to sign.

McCain: Matt Cooper also said he had no knowledge whether Karl Rove knew...

George: Doesn't matter. This covers negligent disclosures as well.

McCain: I don't know what negligent...

(This is a rough transcript from Daily Kos-- Crooks and Liars has the actual footage.)

Let the Games Begin!

Questions, questions, questions for Roberts. And he's proving his Reagan-era bona fides with his electrifying answers: "Well, uhh... I have no recollection of those particular events."

Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr. has repeatedly said that he has no memory of belonging to the Federalist Society, but his name appears in the influential, conservative legal organization's 1997-1998 leadership directory.

Having served only two years on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit after a long career as a government and private-sector lawyer, Roberts has not amassed much of a public paper record that would show his judicial philosophy. Working with the Federalist Society would provide some clue of his sympathies. The organization keeps its membership rolls secret, but many key policymakers in the Bush administration are acknowledged current or former members. . . .

Yesterday, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Roberts "has no recollection of being a member of the Federalist Society, or its steering committee." Roberts has acknowledged taking part in some Federalist Society activities, Perino said.

If the guy's already trying to sweep membership in a right-wing legal group under the rug, we're in for a frustrating ride. Although I never realized that the Federalist Society kept their membership secret. Must be because of all the dangers rich, oppressed, white people face in our society today. Tragic. It's enough to make the son of a steel executive-- being rewarded for decades of loyal service with a lifetime post to the Supreme Court-- cry. Afterall, he has been an actual judge for about two years...

Documents? Don't be silly. WHAT documents?

Right on the heels of the stalled Bolton nomination-- in which the GOP demanded that Democrats just vote yes and shut the hell up, comes the Roberts nomination. And you should expect to start hearing the same chorus right about now.

In fact, if you listen closely, you just might hear the sound of some tiny Republican voices grumbling about the process themselves. Why? Because once again, the White House has decided to withhold documents that deal with the background of the nominee in question.

Citing privacy and precedent, the Bush administration indicated Sunday it does not intend to release all memos and other documents written by Supreme Court nominee John Roberts when he worked for two Republican presidents.

The leading Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will conduct hearings on Roberts' nomination, disputed the assertion that privacy was at stake and called such a position a "red herring."

Roberts worked in the Reagan White House counsel's office from 1982-1986. He also was principal deputy solicitor general in the administration of the first President Bush.

According to Salon, these documents consist of "legal memos Roberts wrote while working for the Reagan and first Bush administrations, so we can't say where he stands on abortion, gay marriage, affirmative action, or anything else."

The mysterious 12 hours

Gee, now it looks like Alberto Gonzales is involved in Rovegate as well. NYT columnist Frank Rich broke the story on Friday that the AG was called on to preserve all relevant materials, then spent 12 hours doing nothing about it (except give the White House chief of staff Andy Card a running start).

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, responding to a strong charge in a column by Frank Rich in The New York Times’ today, said there was nothing improper about waiting 12 hours to “preserve all materials” after being informed by the Justice Department in 2003 that it was launching an investigation into the disclosure of Valerie Plame’s status as a CIA agent.

Gonzales told Bob Schieffer on the CBS show “Face the Nation” that he had been given permission by the Justice Department to hold off overnight if he saw fit, which he did. But he did tell one man that night: Chief of Staff Andrew Card.

The White House did not immediately respond to questions Sunday about whether Card passed that information to top Bush aide Karl Rove or anyone else, giving them advance notice to prepare for the investigation, the Associated Press reported after Gonzales' revelation.

Just curious: how many people have to be involved before someone has to take responsibility?

Saturday, July 23, 2005

The Incredible Torture Show

Unbelievable. This administration absolutely has to go. Their policy of doing whatever it takes to obtain and keep power, their total inability to take responsibility for the consequences of anything they do, and their sheer lack of human decency continues to taint the armed forces. Stories continue to emerge from Abu Ghraib, and even if the administration and the press turn a blind eye to it, the rest of the world watches-- and their hatred for the United States continues to grow.

It was early last October that Kasim Mehaddi Hilas says he witnessed the rape of a boy prisoner aged about 15 in the notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. “The kid was hurting very bad and they covered all the doors with sheets,” he said in a statement given to investigators probing prisoner abuse in Abu Ghraib. “Then, when I heard the screaming I climbed the door … and I saw [the soldier’s name is deleted] who was wearing a military uniform.” Hilas, who was himself threatened with being sexually assaulted in Abu Graib, then describes in horrific detail how the soldier raped “the little kid”.

There's another horrific account here.

So what is shown on the 87 photographs and four videos from Abu Ghraib prison that the Pentagon, in an eleventh hour move, blocked from release this weekend? One clue: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told Congress last year, after viewing a large cache of unreleased images: "I mean, I looked at them last night, and they're hard to believe.” They show acts "that can only be described as blatantly sadistic, cruel and inhumane," he added.

A Republican Senator suggested the same day they contained scenes of “rape and murder.” No wonder Rumsfeld commented then, "If these are released to the public, obviously it's going to make matters worse."

Yesterday, news emerged that lawyers for the Pentagon had refused to cooperate with a federal judge's order to release dozens of unseen photographs and videos from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq by Saturday. The photos were among thousands turned over by the key “whistleblower” in the scandal, Specialist Joseph M. Darby. Just a few that were released to the press sparked the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal last year, and the video images are said to be even more shocking. . . .

In the same period, reporter Seymour Hersh, who helped uncover the scandal, said in a speech before an ACLU convention: “Some of the worse that happened that you don't know about, ok? Videos, there are women there. Some of you may have read they were passing letters, communications out to their men….The women were passing messages saying ‘Please come and kill me, because of what's happened.’

“Basically what happened is that those women who were arrested with young boys/children in cases that have been recorded. The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling. The worst about all of them is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking that your government has. They are in total terror it's going to come out.”

Friday, July 22, 2005

Cable News Alert! Pretty black woman missing! (just kidding)

Not kidding about the missing woman-- just the idea that it would get any play on cable news. After weeks of 'special reports' from Aruba and the laughable 'runaway bride' story, I think it's a safe bet that this missing woman story isn't going to be grabbing the attention of the nation. Hell, even the story I link to isn't much more than an afterthought.

Hey, cable news monkeys-- when do we get to see some in-depth coverage of actual news, instead of 'round-the-clock coverage of some southern cracker going missing after a boozy, underage night of clubbing in the Caribbean?


Get down with "Dancing Jack" Roberts

Crooks and Liars strikes again with a mighty funny piece on the Roberts nomination. But the highlight is the footage of Roberts' feisty 4 year-old son Jack. Who fancies himself to be a sort of rug-cutting wunderkind. Go ahead-- have a Friday chuckle.

Video-WMP Video-QT

Bolton implicated in Rovegate

Just heard this on the Al Franken Show. John Bolton apparently testified before the grand jury investigating the leak of Valerie Plame's identity to the press. That's all I know, and I can't seem to find a reliable piece written about it-- but Franken says that it's at least appeared on MSNBC. At this point it's just getting creepy how widespread this is. Finally, there's some coverage on what total crooks these guys are.

Roberts a Bush shadow warrior

This is sad, if not surprising in the least. And it provides yet another example of why the GOP is determined to prevent an open debate on Roberts' career. Salon sums up the piece in the LAT article I link to above:

Roberts traveled in the fall of 2000 to the sunny state of Florida, where he played a mostly behind-the-scenes role in helping Bush prevail in the legal fight that followed the disputed presidential election.

Republican lawyers who worked on the recount told the Times that Roberts advised Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on the role that he and the Florida Legislature could play in the fight over the recounting of ballots. "Mr. Roberts, one of the preeminent constitutional attorneys in the country, came to Florida in 2000 at his own expense and met with Gov. Bush to share what he believed the governor's responsibilities were under federal law after a presidential election and a presidential election under dispute," Jeb Bush spokesman Jacob DiPietre told the Times. "Judge Roberts was one of several experts who came to Florida to share their ideas. The governor appreciated his willingness to serve and valued his counsel."

Working on the recount is hardly disqualifying -- as the Times notes, just about every leading constitutional-law type was involved in the case somehow -- but Roberts' role does raise some questions about whether he's really the nonpartisan lawyer and jurist that his proponents would make him out to be. "What's interesting is that only now is it coming to the fore that John Roberts was part of that," People for the American Way President Ralph Neas told the Times. "He always created an impression of being above the political fray, being part of the Washington legal establishment, but not of partisan politics."

UPDATE: Roberts wasn't just an unpaid assistant in the Gore-Bush debacle in Florida in 2000. Thanks to Daily Kos, we've also been reminded that he was one of Ken Starr's attack dogs in the attempt to impeach Clinton over invading Iraq on false premises. Errr, I mean a blowjob. From a 1989 WaPo story:

Solicitor General Kenneth W. Starr is expected to name Washington attorney John G. Roberts Jr. to be the "political" deputy in the solicitor's office, the government's advocate before the Supreme Court.

Roberts, 34, a former clerk to Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, met Starr when both worked as aides to Attorney General William French Smith in the early Reagan years.

The job, counselor to the solicitor general as well as deputy solicitor general, was created in 1982 after strong conservative criticism that the traditionally independent office was not forceful enough in pushing the administration's social agenda at the high court. Of the five deputies in the office, the political deputy is the only non-career appointee.

[emphasis theirs]

Coingate keeps on rollin'

The Republican party isn't doing well in Ohio. Pretty much every high-level state official has a connection to the Coingate scandal, they have the least-popular governor in the country, the president's approval rating is at 40%, and a representative, Jean Schmidt, just helped herself to $10,000 from Tom DeLay's ARMPAC-- under investigation for illegal fund raising and money laundering. Keep it up, fellas. There's nothing quite as pleasant as seeing a corrupt hypocrite hoist by his own petard.

A must-read piece from the Toledo Blade. It's all so juicy it was tough to pick an excerpt.

COLUMBUS — Tom Noe stole millions of dollars from the state and used a “Ponzi” scheme to fabricate profits within the state’s $50 million rare-coin investment, Ohio’s attorney general said yesterday.

“There was an absolute theft of funds going on,” Attorney General Jim Petro said.

Mr. Petro said there is evidence that Mr. Noe pocketed nearly $4 million in money invested with the coin fund through the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation since 1998. . . .

The attorney general said the theft began on March 31, 1998, the day Mr. Noe received the first of two $25 million payments from the workers’ compensation bureau, and continued until late May — more than eight weeks after The Blade first reported on April 3 that there were problems with the state’s investment.

“On Day One, Tom Noe took $1.375 million and put it in his personal or his business account,” Mr. Petro said. Records show that Mr. Noe immediately began using the state’s money for his personal use, the attorney general said.

A week later, Mr. Noe and his wife, Bernadette, made $4,500 in contributions to then-Secretary of State Bob Taft’s campaign for governor.

Orrin Hatch: Roberts bigger than Jesus

That's barely an exaggeration. I picked this up on Daily Kos, and it's from Orrin Hatch appearing on (what else?) Fox News yesterday. What does he think of Roberts actually having to answer questions about his beliefs and stances? It's a crock. Those who ask questions? Vile sinners. But you can read it for yourself:

I think senators can ask any questions they want. I've said, no matter how dumb the question may be. But the, the nominee doesn't have to answer them and he should not, under the canons of judicial ethics, he should not answer questions on any issue that possibly would come before the Supreme Court. Otherwise, he would be foretelling how he would vote on those issues and then they would hold that against him. So it's a little bit like Biblical Pharisees, you know, who basically are always trying to undermine Jesus Christ, you know, it goes on the same way. If they can catch him in something, they can then criticize -- and the outside groups will go berserk. And that's that what drives the People for the American Way, the Alliance for Justice, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. They're against any Republican. We knew that just no matter who it was -- it could be the greatest person in the world, and Roberts is, is that -- they would come out against him.

C'mon, Orrin, don't sugar-coat it! Do you think Roberts is an OK guy or what? Like I said before, the Republicans are all "on message" here, and the word is prevent the public from hearing Roberts describe his love of corporatism and religion-based law. Ugh.

The Culture of Va-va-voom...

While we live under the threat of terrorism, continue to watch our citizens and innocent Iraqis die every day, see the administration funnel homeland security money to small red-state towns in the Midwest rather than protect our ports and chemical facilities, see a militant group of reactionary theocrats try to wrest government away from the people... well, you get the idea. Anyway, the Dutch have other problems to worry about. I'd gladly trade.

Dutch police and park rangers have admitted they are powerless to stop a growing trend of outdoor sex orgies.

In the latest incident, a large group of people were found romping naked on a beach in the Bussloo area of the country.

They including 10 couples who were being "particularly boisterous" with each other while the others watched.

But police called to the scene admitted they were powerless to act despite numerous complaints from other beach users, and could only give the naked orgy lovers a verbal warning.

I'll level with you: I'm not really much for group sex in public, but I'd take it over a theocracy anyday.

Perjury? Yes, please.

The evidence keeps coming, even as Faux News still insists that any suggestion of the commission of a crime in Rovegate is nonsense, it's insane, it's 'unhinged' even. Apparently the DA who's been investigating the case for two years disagrees...

July 22 (Bloomberg) -- Two top White House aides have given accounts to a special prosecutor about how reporters first told them the identity of a CIA agent that are at odds with what the reporters have said, according to people familiar with the case.

Lewis "Scooter'' Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, told special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald that he first learned from NBC News reporter Tim Russert of the identity of Central Intelligence Agency operative Valerie Plame, the wife of former ambassador and Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson, one person said. Russert has testified before a federal grand jury that he didn't tell Libby of Plame's identity, the person said.

White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove told Fitzgerald that he first learned the identity of the CIA agent from syndicated columnist Robert Novak, according a person familiar with the matter. Novak, who was first to report Plame's name and connection to Wilson, has given a somewhat different version to the special prosecutor, the person said.

These discrepancies may be important because Fitzgerald is investigating whether Libby, Rove or other administration officials made false statements during the course of the investigation. The Plame case has its genesis in whether any administration officials violated a 1982 law making it illegal to knowingly reveal the name of a covert intelligence agent.

Bush threatens to veto anti-torture legislation

Isn't the new 'Culture of Life' just grand? Bush is taking a stand to remind those peacenik worry-warts who oppose prisoner abuse that we usually aren't killing the guys. Just freaking them out and making them crap themselves. And maybe the occasional sodomizing. Good, clean, fun.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House on Thursday threatened to veto a massive Senate bill for $442 billion in next year's defense programs if it moves to regulate the Pentagon's treatment of detainees or sets up a commission to investigate operations at Guantanamo Bay prison and elsewhere.

The Bush administration, under fire for the indefinite detention of enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and questions over whether its policies led to horrendous abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, put lawmakers on notice it did not want them legislating on the matter.

In a statement, the White House said such amendments would "interfere with the protection of Americans from terrorism by diverting resources from the war."

What the hell does that last quote even mean? It's vital to national security that we give Guantanamo Bay the riding crops and car batteries they ask for?

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Our worthless press: praise Roberts, blame Wilson

The GOP stance on Roberts' confirmation hearing is simple: shout down anyone who wants to ask him about issues. The press is being pretty compliant. There have already been breathless mentions of his "small-town upbringing" and "work in a steel mill." What they're actually cutting from the final versions of these stories is that Roberts grew up the son of a wealthy Bethlehem Steel executive. So it wasn't so much a case of working hard as a Main Street kind of American-- his pop gave him summer work. Now that's a man after Bush's heart.

At the same time, the GOP is trying desperately to keep attention from Rove and Libby's probable criminality in the Valerie Plame affair by discussing Joe Wilson instead. One of the main talking points is that Wilson falsely claimed that Cheney sent him to Niger. This is simply a lie. But in spite of the fact that it has no bearing on the case (and is a false accusation as well), it's being repeated endlessly by "journalists" whose job it is to know better.

Love that Daily Howler. It should be required reading for anyone going by the name of journalist. And everyone else, besides. They do great work, and they call Democrats on their bologna, too. It's just that these days there's a lot more lunchmeat coming from the right.

"My party, right or wrong!" (Illustrated)

This cartoon was brought to my attention by Nancy Nurse. Yes, it's funny. But it also points out the tragic reality of the Republican party today. When Nixon turned out to be a crook, it was in large part due to the pressure of his own party that he stepped down. Even Barry Goldwater (who was pretty damn conservative) stood up against Nixon. That isn't going to happen today. Not with this crop of Republicans. Whether it's due to the militancy of the fundamentalist right, the ascendancy of blatantly partisan media, or the hundreds of millions poured into right-wing publishing and thinktanks, it's clear that toe the party line no matter how dishonest, un-American or dangerous. The lies leading to war, the security leak, the unprecedented deficits, the corporate moves to China and offshore tax shelters-- nothing is enough to make a Republican take a principled stand for the nation if it goes against ideology. That said, read this and weep:

The feel-good editorial of the week. Maybe month.

This should make your day. A nun teaching at a Catholic school calls Grade-A Bible Thumper Rick "Spreading" Santorum to task for "refusing to pay any tuition money to the Penn Hills School District for their children who attended the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School."

This is a must-read if I've ever seen one. (It's the third letter from the top.)

Loserman rides again. What a pity.

Even as several Democratic senators made a committment to stand strong in the face of GOP hot air and ensure a responsible and thorough confirmation hearing on Roberts, Dopey Joe went ahead and stepped right in it. Again.

I don't have a problem with Lieberman the Democratic Senator. I have a HUGE problem, however, with Lieberman giving Fox News more ammo than any other Democrat in the country (Zell Miller doesn't count-- he's a Fox employee caught stealing from his state). Can't somebody just tell the guy that he doesn't have to make mealy-mouthed statements about what nice guys the Republicans are every damn time they propose something?!?

A moderate Democratic senator who helped broker a deal over President Bush's judicial appointments said Thursday that Supreme Court nominee John Roberts doesn't seem to be the kind of right-wing candidate they feared the president would select.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman, one of 14 senators who helped avoid a confrontation over judges, said their message to Bush essentially was, "Don't send us an extremist that's going to blow the place up, and first look is that that's exactly what he has not done."

"In other words, he's sent us somebody that's got impressive academic and legal credentials and seems to have a record of personal honor," Lieberman said on the Don Imus radio show.

Lieberman, D-Conn., said his first impression of Roberts, who became a federal appeals court judge in 2003, is that "he's a decent guy." But he said it was too early to reach further conclusions.

It's not like anyone's asking, Lieberman. Can't you just keep your matzo hole shut for once, instead of talking about what great guys the far-righties are?

The White House vs. National Security

Another new story on Rovegate-- this time a statement by intel officers speaking out against the GOP defense of Rove and Libby:

Eleven former intelligence officers are speaking up on behalf of CIA officer Valerie Plame, saying leaking her identity may have damaged national security and threatens the ability of U.S. intelligence gathering.

In a statement to congressional leaders, the former officers said the Republican National Committee has circulated talking points focusing on the idea that Plame was not working undercover and deserved no protection.

There are thousands of U.S. intelligence officers who work at a desk in the Washington, D.C., area every day who are undercover as Plame was when her identity was leaked, the 11 former officers said in a three-page statement.

Rovegate still in the news-- with good reason.

Thankfully, this story isn't going away. In fact, it's getting hotter. And things are looking worse and worse for the administration. It's patently obvious that Rove and Libby outed an undercover agent-- and in spite of the dubious defense that they didn't know, the White House has no problem with the ethics of it. Anyway, here's a great story from the WaPo:

A classified State Department memorandum central to a federal leak investigation contained information about CIA officer Valerie Plame in a paragraph marked "(S)" for secret, a clear indication that any Bush administration official who read it should have been aware the information was classified, according to current and former government officials.

Plame -- who is referred to by her married name, Valerie Wilson, in the memo -- is mentioned in the second paragraph of the three-page document, which was written on June 10, 2003, by an analyst in the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), according to a source who described the memo to The Washington Post.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Action Alert: Support senators standing up for honest debate on Roberts

Important stuff. You're going to see a lot from the left on this issue, but most Americans are going to see a whole lot more from the right. In fact, they're already hard at work trying to put the nomination in their terms. Here are their main bullet points:

1. Roberts is a sensible, mainstream choice, and any attempt to question him on his views of the judiciary are simply partisan attempts to make Bush look bad.

2. Clinton's nominee, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, was a radical liberal. Nevertheless, Senate Republicans approved the selection.

Needless to say, this is pure hogwash. Roberts is anything but mainstream, and he could serve on the Supreme Court for up to forty years. Requiring him to explain his views to the American people isn't partisan, it's the responsible thing to do. And Ruth Bader Ginsburg was suggested to Clinton by none other than Utah Senator Orrin Hatch-- one of the most conservative GOP senators. And her voting record shows that she's the most moderate voice on the court.

The good news is that several Democratic senators are already taking action, and you can add your voice to the call-- the Democrats have to unite, and whether he's confirmed or not, they can't be permitted to give Roberts a pass.

Senator Patrick Leahy's No Rubber Stamp petition.

Senator John Kerry's call for questions and comments on our thoughts about the nomination.

Take five minutes to sign on. It matters.

Uncle Sam wants YOU! And your uncle...

Now it isn't just College Republicans who can weasel out of the war they love so much-- so can their pro-war uncles! I'm kidding, of course. All this really means is that we can't sustain troop levels in Iraq with current recruitment levels. Since youngsters aren't too keen on signing up at this point, maybe they can find some nice middle-aged Beetle Baileys (after all, he's gotta be sixty or so by now).

The Defense Department quietly asked Congress on Monday to raise the maximum age for military recruits to 42 for all branches of the service.

Under current law, the maximum age to enlist in the active components is 35, while people up to age 39 may enlist in the reserves. By practice, the accepted age for recruits is 27 for the Air Force, 28 for the Marine Corps and 34 for the Navy and Army, although the Army Reserve and Navy Reserve sometimes take people up to age 39 in some specialties.

The Pentagon’s request to raise the maximum recruit age to 42 is part of what defense officials are calling a package of “urgent wartime support initiatives” sent to Congress Monday night prior to a Tuesday hearing of the House Armed Services military personnel subcommittee.

Double Whammy: SCOTUS and 9/11

You just can't underestimate this administration's willingness to swipe pages from the totalitarian playbook when it comes to manipulating the news. Rove was on the ropes, with only 25% of the public thinking that the administration was cooperating with the investigation.

Then came three speeches by the prez in three days. That's gotta be a record. First we had the diplomatic photo-op with the Indian prime minister (took two questions). Then the SCOTUS nominee. And at this very monent, he's blathering about the importance of the Patriot Act (no questions)-- something that not even conservatives support in large numbers. But it allows him to repeat all the buzzwords he's counted on since 2001 to keep him afloat: 9/11, terror, freedom, liberty. You know the drill.

I'd say this shows that the White House is very, very concerned about Rovegate. And we'd better work hard to keep it in the news.

I thought I'd take a look at the Faux News homepage and Drudge to see what was happening. The word 'Rove' appears once on the former-- in a link to an attack on Joseph Wilson that repeats long-debunked claims. The word 'Rove' can't be found on Drudge's page. Instead he heads things up with a link to an Ann Coulter column in which she frets that Bush's nominee might be too liberal for America. She, too, repeats the usual GOP talking points. That Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a flaming liberal (who was actually suggested by right-wing Mormon senator Orrin Hatch of Utah), that the "vast majority" of Americans want Roe v. Wade overturned (about 60% want it upheld), etc. What reliable little soldiers the GOP has!

Tales of Great Timing

Raw Story has plenty on the choice of Roberts. But they also have this nugget from the Wall Street Journal(!). It explains a few things-- why Bush went from 'Ill fire anyone who leaked' to 'I'll fire anyone convicted of a crime.' That's about as much wiggle-room as puppetmaster Rove is going to get. Also, shows just how useful the timing of his Supreme Court nomination was.

A classified State Department memo that may be pivotal to the CIA leak case made clear that information identifying an agent and her role in her husband's intelligence-gathering mission was sensitive and shouldn't be shared, according to a person familiar with the document, the (paid-restricted) Wall Street Journal reports Tuesday. Excerpts follow.

News that the memo was marked for its sensitivity emerged as President Bush yesterday appeared to backtrack from his 2004 pledge to fire any member of his staff involved in the leaking of the CIA agent's name. In a news conference yesterday that followed disclosures that his top strategist, Karl Rove, had discussed Ms. Wilson's CIA employment with two reporters, Mr. Bush adopted a different formulation, specifying criminality as the standard for firing.

The memo's details are significant because they will make it harder for officials who saw the document to claim that they didn't realize the identity of the CIA officer was a sensitive matter. Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor, may also be looking at whether other crimes -- such as perjury, obstruction of justice or leaking classified information -- were committed.

The first of the spin on Roberts

True to form, the right-wing is out in full force to shower praise on Bush's nominee. "Brilliant," "one of the finest legal minds in the country," etc.

Furthermore, the focus is on what a sensible nominee he is. A "smooth confirmation is guaranteed." The point here is laying the groundwork for attacks on Democrats-- they've already set themselves up to feign outrage when Democrats suggest that this right-wing kook is, errr... a right-wing kook.

We've seen it before, over and over. What we need to do is keep the heat on Rove and point out that this guy is anything but mainstream. He's a bone that the administration is throwing to fundamentalists-- with the added bonus of being staunchly anti-consumer.

The first of the poop on Roberts

MoveOn passed this on in a message. As expected, he's pretty much against the things most Americans are for. Anyway, here are a few nuggets:

Wrong on environmental protection:
Roberts appears to want to limit the scope of the Endangered Species Act, and in papers he wrote while in law school he supported far-right legal theories about "takings" which would make it almost impossible for the government to enforce most environmental legislation.

Wrong on civil rights: Roberts worked to keep Congress from defending parts of the Voting Rights Act.

Wrong on human rights: As a appeals court judge, Roberts ruled that the Geneva Convention doesn't apply to some prisoners of war.

Wrong on our right to religious freedom: Roberts argued that schools should be able to impose religious speech on attendees.

Wrong on women's rights:
Roberts wrote that "Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided and should be overruled." He also weighed in on behalf of Operation Rescue, a violent anti-abortion group, in a federal case.

Senator Durbin has already made a statement that Roberts is not mainstream, and that makes for a controversial hearing. Right on. Write to your waffling Democratic Senators (if you have them) and remind them of just how far-out this guy is.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Filthy stories for moral paragons

Sometimes the sheer lunacy of the far-right is so mind-boggling, so idiotic, and so blatantly contradictory that there's not even anything to say in response.

Consider the "Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam," the book so good that it had to be independently published. The liberal conspiracy might lull us into thinking they believe in free speech by publishing Ann Coulter and Ed Klein, but they're TOO AFRAID of the truth about a major world religion to acknowledge the fact that they eat babies every day and consider suicide bombing a sport. Every last one of them, dammit!!!!!

Here's all you need to know about this book:

"Fact" One- Muhammad vs. Jesus: proof that Christianity teaches peace and Islam violence -- and that there is nothing in the Bible that rivals the Qur'an's exhortations to warfare

"Fact" Two- The Crusades: unprovoked Western aggression? How, in fact, Muslims armies overran the predominantly Christian Middle East, then drove deep into Europe long before any Crusade was even contemplated -- and did so in obedience to core teachings of the Islamic faith

Huh? Then there's this gem-- The stifling effect Islam has on science and free inquiry, accounting for its failure to prosper -- and hence for its murderous envy of the West

Wow. Anyone who was paying attention in high school history classes can answer this charge in one word: zero. (Note to anyone who wasn't-- do a Web search on who invented the zero.)

But it just wouldn't be a right-wing religious screed without some hot, nasty sex stories, right? Of course it wouldn't! So I'll leave you with this tantalizing softcore teaser:

The ghastly lure of Islam's X-rated Paradise for suicide bombers and jihad terrorists

You might call that GOPorn. They have no choice but to titillate you with nasty stories, but it's only in the interest of showing how "ghastly" it is. And it's just as authentic as those letters to Penthouse forum.

Wake up, conservatives! These people are calling the shots in your party! And they're intellectually, sexually, and morally retarded!

We have a nominee. Heaven help us.

Bush announced his choice for the Supreme Court. The snap-on hair is a big red flag in its own right, but the AP story also has this to say:

The blogs will be working overtime on the nominee, and I'll report the important stuff as I see it. Right-wing nutjob and Senator (for the time being) Rick Santorum-- the guy who gushingly talked about kissing and caressing his wife's stillborn son, and forcing the rest of his family to do the same-- called the choice "brilliant." Now, he's one of Bush's most compliant lapdogs, so he was going to say that no matter what. But the blogs will give this guy's record a thorough going-over.

One comment-- we can fully expect the right-wing (Fox, any GOP pundit/columnist/radio or TV host) to immediately begin to start declaring that the Democrats will have no right whatsoever to challenge this nomination (much less use that ol' Commie tactic of fillibustering, as seen in that Commie flick 'Mr. Smith Goes to Washington')-- since he was already confirmed by the Senate in 2003. As were 95% of Bush's other nominees-- no matter how bat-shit crazy they are. But the Supreme Court is a whole different ball game. and judging from the positive statements from the far-right, they're pleased. Which means another voice for fascism on the SCOTUS for a few more decades.

Action Alert: Help air Rovegate commercial

MoveOn is trying to raise funds to air an ad that has some fine, fine footage of White Hosue spokesmonkey Scott McClellan looking like the stereotypical Washington scumbag. As some blog I was looking at earlier mentioned, the reason this might be going so well for our side (for once) is that we aren't having to argue the heavy-duty policy side of things. It's pointed, it's powerful, and it exposes the corruption of this administration. The commercial looks pretty good, too.

Have a look, and think about giving a little something.

Buying science for fun and profit. But mostly profit.

Stories of the ways in which this administration does away with "inconvenient" scientific facts never seem to pick up much steam in the mainstream media. Whether it's tobacco, oil companies, or drug companies, the White House is always on their side. And, alas, here's another one from The Nation:

Ethics and science are two areas Republicans in power display notable contempt toward. The intersection of the two has proved particularly troubling.

Last year the House Committee on Energy and Commerce discovered that 81 scientists at the government's National Institutes of Health (NIH) were secretly on the payroll of pharmaceutical companies as consultants. Between 1999 and 2004, the fees ranged from $5 to $517,000.

The revelations prompted an internal NIH investigation, which the House Committee recently made public. Of the 81 scientists under scrutiny, 44 violated NIH rules by either failing to disclose income from private work, failing to receive NIH permission for private consulting or conducting private research on government time. Nine scientists are being referred to the Department of Health and Human Services' Inspector General for possible criminal charges.

Read the full article at the link above. Here's one example of a scientist selling out to the big boys:

Dr. Howard Young--section chief of the National Cancer Institute's experimental laboratory--accepted 500,000 shares in stock options from Advanced Viral Research Corp.

Conflict of interest anyone? Anyone? Please...?

Anatomy of a Lie

I'm not sure which is more disturbing-- that these things happen every day, or that no one cares.

The story goes something like this: a progressive group had Paul Begala speak at a function. Paul Begala says this:

"Well guess what, bin Laden didn't get the memo. He wants to fight us here as well as we saw in London last week. And so, the- their theory is, "we can't really do everything to protect our country because we have to cut taxes for the rich." And so, it... they want to kill us- particularly this city and New York and some other places. I was driving past the pentagon when that plane hit. I had friends on that plane, this is deadly serious to me- they want to kill me and my children if they can. But if they just kill me and not my children, they want my children to be comforted that while they didn't protect me because they cut my taxes, my children won't have to pay any money on the money they inherit."

Awkward, sure. The pronouns get pretty mixed up toward the end, since he's obviously referring to two different groups here-- the terrorists and the administration. The terrorists attack, the administration fails to protect. Quite simple, really. Just careless.

But what's this? Both Matt Drudge and the Washington Times (to name just two) decided to gin up the quote to make it more likely to outrage flag-waving imbeciles. To wit (from the WT):

Democratic strategist Paul Begala says Republicans want to kill him and his children to preserve tax cuts for the rich. . . .

Republicans, he added, "want to kill us."

Of course, all Begala said was that terrorists attacked us, and this administration didn't stop the attacks. But that doesn't win over the brainwashed right-wing....

The art of misdirection

AmericaBlog has a few tidbits about the issues of the day-- the Supreme Court and Rovegate. They're saying that the nomination of a new justice will be pushed up to... immediately. And the nominee will be surprisingly un-controversial. We hope.

But the net effect will be (they hope) to distract the press from doing their job and demanding accountability from the administration. It's always worked before, but given this unprecedented level of attention to the admin's dirty dealings, a fellah can still hope for the best.

UPDATE: Salon has more about the rumored nomination of one Edith Clement. It sounds like she won't be controversial-- because she hasn't done anything significant in her tenure as a judge. However, she's got all the hallmarks of this administration: a long history representing big business in courts, membership in the Federalist Society (the sort of 'conservative' organization with members like John Ashcroft and Antonin Scalia), and the backing of other wingnuts with a legal background.

My prediction? If nominated, she'll sail through and be a crappy judge a la Scalia and Thomas-- you know, pro states' rights until they're against them. "Strict constructionists" except when it's inconvenient.

Comedy Tuesdays

Now this is what I like to see-- comedians piling on the administration. They could be funnier, but I'll take what I can get.

"Karl Rove is in a lot of trouble. The White House says today that President Bush is standing by his top advisor Karl Rove even though Rove apparently revealed the identity of a CIA agent. However, Bush did say he would fire Rove if he revealed the end of `Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.'"
--Conan O'Brien

"This is a tough situation for President Bush because he and Rove are very close. And a friend of both was quoted saying today they finish each other's sentences. Although I am pretty sure Bush starts the sentence, and then the other guy finishes."
--Jay Leno

"Suspicion for the leak was immediately cast on White House adviser and long-time Bush confidante Karl Rove, known as one of the few men in Washington with flesh-colored hair."
--Jon Stewart

"Karl Rove is really not worried about this because he knows Bush is extremely loyal to his staff. He never likes to fire his staff---not out of loyalty; he hates having to learn new names."
--Jay Leno

Santorum: Sex with 12 year-old boys OK

Not exactly, of course. But in trying to get himself out the hole he's in after stating that Massachusetts' liberal nature was responsible for priests' sexual abuse. Never mind that Cardinal Law moved to Boston from my home state of Missouri and one of the convicted priests was from North Carolina. Obviously, that argument doesn't really hold up. So Santorum tried to put it another way-- the priests were involved in consensual sex with adults. Adults of, you know, 11 or twelve years old. The man is absolutely insane.

"In this case, what we're talking about, basically, is priests who were having sexual relations with post-pubescent men. We're not talking about priests with 3-year-olds, or 5-year-olds. We're talking about a basic homosexual relationship. Which, again, according to the world view sense is a perfectly fine relationship as long as it's consensual between people. If you view the world that way, and you say that's fine, you would assume that you would see more of it."

So there you have it. Does anyone on the right really think that the Catholic Church is a bastion of liberalism? Or that Santorum makes a good point when it comes to man-on-boy sexual assault? Can anyone out there even comprehend this nonsense?

Damn straight! Uhmm, that is to say, uh...

Let the self-pity fiesta begin! Spokane, WA, mayor James West was appalled at the indecency exhibited by the local media when they exposed his sex life. I mean, just because a guy is an outspoken homophobe and tireless foe of gay rights, some people think it's okay to point out that he's using his office computer to lure teenage boys into having sex with him? Shocking. Victimization wasn't working so well, so he tried that other right-wing classic-- being born again. Certain to be a crowd-pleaser at GOP rallies, but nobody else is too impressed.

What does the NYT house ethicist have to say to the likes of West? Tough noogies.

Your colleagues may ethically out an official only if that official's being gay is germane to his policy-making. A person who seeks elected office, voluntarily entering the public arena, does surrender some claims to privacy. (Financial disclosure comes to mind.) [Emphasis added]

"What the hell is going on?"

I don't know what it was about this particular scandal that has the White House press corps so fired up, but I can't complain. Admin Spokesmonkey Scott McClellan deserves every second of it and more besides. It's the least he deserves for being the mouthpiece of what may well be the most corrupt presidency in our history. (Teapot Dome Affair? Don't make me laugh!)

Q Is leaking, in your judgment of his interpretation, a crime?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'll leave it at what the President said.

Go ahead.

Q What is his problem? Two years, and he can't call Rove in and find out what the hell is going on? I mean, why is it so difficult to find out the facts? It costs thousands, millions of dollars, two years, it tied up how many lawyers? All he's got to do is call him in.

MR. McCLELLAN: You just heard from the President. He said he doesn't know all the facts. I don't know all the facts.

(That feisty reporter is none other than Helen Thomas)

Monday, July 18, 2005

On your mark, get set, DISCREDIT!

A spooky story from the UK suggests that a top British diplomat, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, has been blocked from publishing a book that gives an account of the post-war situation in Iraq.

Reportedly critical not only of the Blair government, but of such high-profile Americans as Condi Rice and Coalition Provisional Authority head L. Paul Bremer (with whom Greenstock worked), the UK government has asked the author to remove "substantial passages," the reporter states that the blocking will be regarded as "an attempt by ministers to avoid further embarrassing disclosures over the conduct of the war and its aftermath from a highly credible source."

The main concern seems to be that private conversations at the top levels of the British government are included in the text. Wouldn't we love to see those...

Right-wing defenses of Rove don't hold water

As I mentioned in a post earlier today, the defenses mounted on behalf of Rove are based on his not actually using Valerie Plame's name (although, since he said "Joseph Wilson's wife," that's pretty much academic) and that Rove didn't know she was undercover. And anyway, he didn't mean to rat her out.

Unfortunately for Rove, that ol' chestnut about ignorance of the law notwithstanding, he signed a security agreement that demands he take responsibility:

Under the nondisclosure agreement and the applicable executive order, even "negligent" disclosures to reporters are grounds for revocation of a security clearance or dismissal.

Thanks to the mysterious Cipher for bringing this to my attention.

Tracking down bad reporting on Rove

There's plenty of it, unsurprisingly. Media Matters is doing their usual excellent job of keeping track of misinformation in the press, this time over the Rove leak. Or, more specifically, the success the GOP is having with disseminating their bogus talking points.

Take a look. It's good stuff, if very troubling.

Things you won't see in the news

After a speech Dick Durbin gave in which he didn't actually compare Guantanamo Bay wardens to Nazis, the GOP and the mainstream media ran the story for all it was worth. And the premise was, naturally, that Durbin did compare them to Nazis.

But there've been plenty of instances of prominent Republicans hauling out the Nazi ploy. In fact, it just happened again--

[New Jersey GOP] Congressman Frank LoBiondo apologized for suggesting that Guantanamo Bay detainees were worse than Adolf Hitler because the Nazi dictator "sort of had a political rationale about what he was doing."

The New Jersey Republican made the remark on a radio talk show this past week, describing his recent visit to the Naval Base in Cuba. Muslim terrorists, he said, were more evil than Hitler.

"Hitler, in his philosophy, was, you know, he hated Jews, he was murdering Jews, and there were some people he liked. But he never went to the level that these people are going to," LoBiondo said.

Hey, at least he's sorry....