July 31, 2005
"Are the police being used for political purposes?" . . . "They arrest people and hold them in custody, even though the courts order them released. Meanwhile, the police rarely detain anyone who belongs to a Shiite religious party."OK, it's Iraq. Had the article said "The Party" instead of "Shiite religious party" it would have been the United States. Same difference at this point - Republicans and their contributors can get away with anything.
Ohio's special election will be a dry run for how effective Republican efforts to steal votes in 2006 will be. The 2004 vote mis-count in Ohio proved that the Republican party can steal any election that is within a 5% margin of error. The sad part is that neither the Democratic Party nor the M$M cares.
... at least in the last century or so, unquestionably.
In Tuesday's special Ohio Congressional election there is some breaking news. Republican Jean Schmidt claimed on TV that she had never met Tom Noe - the perpetrator of Ohio's "Coingate" scandal in which Republicans handed over state funds to a campaign contributor who "invested" the funds in coins (and stole much of the money.)
Turns out Schmidt was lying, and got caught.
Read about it at Swing State Project: OH-02: Come Clean Jean!
July 30, 2005
The ability of the Rovians to pull fresh GOP votes out of those two counties certainly challenged plausibility, and, in Clermont's case, almost defied mathematics. Consider the fact that according to the Census Bureau, Clermont's population rose only 4.4% (about 7,800 souls) between 2000 and 2003, while reported GOP turnout increased by roughly 31% (about 14,600 votes) from 2000 to 2004. This in a county that only had about 122,000 registered voters last year, according to the Cincinatti Enquirer. Mr. Diebold must be very proud.Hackett is running for Congress in a special election this Tuesday. Billmon is referring here to questions about Diebold voting machines.
Henry Blodget has a column on Slate, entitled How To Invest Like a Supreme Court Justice: What John Roberts' portfolio reveals about his character.
While Blodget's analysis is somewhat interesting, if highly speculative, what I think is more important to draw attention to is the fact that Roberts is not just well off... he appears to be extremely well off... as in being worth between $3 and $7 million in 2003, according to his financial disclosure records. Blodget suggests that the top end of that figure could exceed $10 million, given the how the stock market has performed since then.
This may even be a low estimate, since according to his 2003 financial disclosure records, he owned "a chunk of XM Satellite Radio worth between $100,000 and $250,000" and the stock has increased in value ten fold since then... making that one investment now worth between $1 million and $2.5 million (assuming he hasn't sold, which reading Blodget's analysis would appear to be probable).
Why is this relevant? Simple: class interests, and life experience. Roberts, by virtue of his wealth, is among the elite of the American elite, and that is bound to affect:
a) how he thinks, who he associates with, how he lives... virtually every aspect of his life is going to be colored by his wealth
b) his ability to empathize with the plight of the average American...no matter how "objective" he attempts to be, it is going to be flat out impossible for Roberts to really grasp, at a gut level, what the average middle, working class, or poor/destitute/homeless American encounters every day in their struggle to get buy, or just plain survive the night
This is a fundamental problem of American democracy, and another reason why on so many issues (especially outside of "social issues", like gay rights and abortion) Democratic and Republican positions are often practically indistinguishable.
Congress is filled with millionaires (the wealthiest of which are Democrats--10 of the top 12 in the U.S. Senate in 2003). Now, I'm not suggesting that these folks are acting with malice aforethought to enrich themselves (the "top 40" members of the U.S. were worth, collectively, $626 million, they're hardly hurting for money) - instead, I'm suggesting that the environment these folks live in - where and how they live, who they associate with, what motivates them to get out of bed in the morning - all of these things are inevitably influenced by the fact that they are vastly more comfortable than your average American.
The quote below, from a Democrat no less, suggesting that that success in business might be viewed as a core qualification for holding public office, demonstrates this mentality:
Incoming Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., said talents that make people successful in business also can make them a good lawmaker.
"They bring a lot to the table, especially in our difficult times," said Ruppersberger, whose holdings are valued at $700,000 to $1.58 million. "You want people who have good judgment and have the courage to stand up for what they believe in. If people have done well, that means they're successful. Maybe that's part of leadership." (quote from A Richer Congress, by Jonathan D. Salant)
... success in life, and demonstrated leadership potential, is most easily defined by your level of economic well being.
America is literally run by a wealthy elite, people who, no matter what side of the aisle they sit on, move in the same social and economic circles, and have the same set of expectations about how "life" works. Are these people going to have more sympathy for the plight of a businessman than your average working class American will? You betcha.
Bush's choice of another member of that elite to fill a seat on the Supreme Court tighens the grip of this class of folks on the American polity. What are Robert's natural sympathies? No one can know for sure, but you can bet that, one way or another, his wealth, and how he acquired it, is going to influence his judgement.
July 29, 2005
All of the end of session legislation on Bush's wish list would not be getting so many Democratic votes without Harry Reid's blessing.
Democrats don’t get this. Sure, at a cognitive level they recognize the task, but they don’t “get it.” (If you want to see just how much they don’t get it, watch Charlie Rose’s interview with the new head of the DLC Vilsack. The war against Dean and liberals is now official.)
By now you've heard that the words "War On Terror" are no longer operative. Now it is a "global struggle against violent extremism":
Throughout July, administration officials have substituted new words for the old. Instead of trumpeting the "global war on terrorism," ... have sounded the call to "a global struggle against violent extremism."Struggle Against Violent Extremism. Struggle (Kampf) to SAVE. As in Christianity will SAVE you.
Mr. Rumsfeld described America's efforts as it "wages the global struggle against the enemies of freedom, the enemies of civilization."And who are we to be SAVEd from? Non-Christians, specifically Muslims:
Leaks yesterday said the new policy redefined the terrorist threat as "Islamist extremism", not just al-Qa'eda, and was aimed at some two dozen groups.Timothy McVeigh? Never.
Update - at corrente
GSAVE = Je[sus] Saves
I came across an article I have written about before, and I'm posting this to recommend it again. This is an absolute must-read for understanding what is happening to us, how things got to be the way they are, and how the Right operates. Read The Apparat.
State rejects e-voting system: Counties scramble to replace Diebold machines.
Let's hope this is the start of a nationwide trend:
After possibly the most extensive testing ever on a voting system, California has rejected Diebold's flagship electronic voting machine because of printer jams and screen freezes, sending local elections officials scrambling for other means of voting. "There was a failure rate of about 10 percent, and that's not good enough for the voters of California and not good enough for me," said Secretary of State Bruce McPherson.
Picky, picky, picky.
Does this sound familiar to anyone:
If the machines had been used in an actual election, the result could have been frustrated poll workers and long lines for thousands of voters, said elections officials and voter advocates on Thursday.
"We certainly can't take any kind of risk like that with this kind of device on California voters," McPherson said.
No biggie says Ken Blackwell & Co.:
State elections officials in Ohio say they still have confidence in the machines.
"Absolutely," said Carlo LoParo, spokesman for the Ohio Secretary of State's Office.
California is the only state I am aware of that has established rigorous requirements:
By January 2006 every polling place nationwide must offer at least one handicapped-accessible voting machine — touch screens are one example — and all California touch screens must offer a countable paper record so voters and election officials can verify the accuracy of electronic votes. *So far, no voting system has been state- approved that meets both requirements*.
"This is a muddle because there is no certified system right now," said Elaine Ginnold, acting registrar of voters in Alameda County. "We have to look at all of the nonoptions."
There are going to be some very unhappy tax payers in San Joaquin county:
McPherson denied approval of the TSx after a series of failedtests, culminating in a massive, mock election conducted on 96 of the machines in a San Joaquin County warehouse. San Joaquin is one of three California counties that purchased a total of 13,000 TSx machines in 2003 for more than $40 million and have paid to warehouse them ever since.
For eight hours on July 20, four dozen local elections officials and contractors stood at tables and tapped votes into the machines to replicate a California primary, one of the most complex elections in the nation. State officials watched as paper jams cropped up 10 times, and several machines froze, requiring a full reboot for voting to continue
Diebold has been peddling pure junk, even if it could be trusted:
Reliable voting equipment has been a problem before for Diebold in California. In the weeks before the March 2004 presidential primary, the firm rushed a new device called a voter-card encoder through assembly, testing and temporary state approval. Hundreds of the devices broke down on election day. Without the devices, thousands of voters in two of California's largest counties, San Diego and Alameda, could not vote on Diebold's touch screens. Lines developed, and hundreds walked away without voting.
I'm trying to figure out why the tests McPherson ran didn't include hacking.
I forgot to mention. Yesterday on the Rush Limbaugh show the host (I forget his name...) stated to a caller that "We are in Iraq because we were attacked."
At this late date they are still trying to trick the public.
Stop by The Whiskey Bar for a tall, cool drink of consummate smackdown:
Descriptions of one long orgy? Well, you can't take the U.S. Capitol to Texas -- although God knows I expect the gang to try one of these days. But you can bring Texas to the Capitol, and that's exactly what the Dixiepublicans have done. I guess it serves us Yankees right for losing the Civil War.
How low can they go? Well they've got the limbo stick about six inches off the ground as it is -- but I'll give you good odds that DeLay and his White House cronies are flexible enough to slide under it. Witness Snapper Tom's $1.5 billion bite out of the energy bill (the second installment of this week's GOP pork-a-thon, with the highway bill still to come.)
Order an Autstin City Limits chaser.
Is a complete lack of ethics a requirement to be a Bush appointee or does it just give you an edge over other candidates? Nominee Is Linked to Controversy: Bush's choice for deputy attorney general worked with a lobbyist, now being investigated, in an effort to shield offshore firms from U.S. taxes.
The Bush administration's pick for deputy U.S. attorney general supervised a lobbying campaign two years ago by controversial lobbyist Jack Abramoff to block legislation aimed at offshore companies escaping American taxes, records and interviews show.
Timothy E. Flanigan, 52, chief counsel of Tyco International Ltd. since 2002, appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week and acknowledged supervising Abramoff's work for the Bermuda-based firm. However, he declined to answer questions describing what the lobbyist did for the company.
Well, as long as he hasn't actually been convicted of anything he probably deserves an up or down vote. After all, he probably mows his own lawn, which is a key WH talking point for Roberts.
July 28, 2005
The acknowledgment came after the State Department had earlier insisted nominee John Bolton's "answer was truthful" when he said he had not been questioned or provided information to jury or government investigations in the past five years.
Why wasn't Bolton's answer truthful? Bolton forgot about being interviewed by the State Department inspector general. Ooops! Is that what they used to call perjury?
Well I experimented with requiring comment registration for a while and then opening up again. That bought me a couple of days of peace. But this morning there were well over 200 comment spams. (They mostly appear in older threads, for poker, porn and drugs.) I have to delete them by hand.
So, comment registration is back on for a while. Sorry.
July 27, 2005
Bush cuts and runs.
It's within five points. This is important because ... well just look at the history of elections in this district:
2004: 72% to 28%So suddenly the national Republican Party is pouring in hundreds of thousands of dollars which will be used to smear Paul Hackett because he was a Marine Major who served in Iraq. The Republicans just can't stand to see this happening, and they understand what it will mean for their propaganda machine if Hackett wins.
2002: 74% to 26%
2000: 74% to 23%
1998: 76% to 24%
So do we. So go help: ActBlue - Paul Hackett for Congress, Ohio, District 2
The ball will attack YOU!
It appears that Hillary's appeal for a cease fire has mis-fired. It remains to be seen if the damage she has done to herself and the DLC is irrepairable. Bob Brigham over at Swing State Project sets the stage, DLC Scandal Dogs HRC in WaPo:
Anyone who supports the DLC is fair game, even Hillary. And Hillary fucked up big time with Democrats:Roger Hickey, co-director of the liberal Campaign for America's Future, said Clinton had badly miscalculated the current politics inside the Democratic Party and argued that she could pay a price for her DLC association if she runs for president in 2008.Not only is Hillary losing netroots and grassroots support by aligning herself with Al From and the DLC, but she is failing to change the dynamics.
"There has been an activist resurgence in the Democratic Party in recent years, and Hillary risks ensuring that there's a candidate to her left appealing to those activists who don't much like the DLC," he said.
If there were a text-book, Hillary Clinton would be breaking every rule.
Oh wait, there is a text-book. By cognitive scientist George Lakoff, and yes, Hillary is doing everything wrong. Total FUBAR.
Believe it or not, Bob's opinion is one of the more moderate takes on Hillary and the DLC.
Naturally Bob rakes Al From over the coals. The Brigham Corrolary to The 11th Commandment: If you're in the DLC you're fair game.
Bob makes the obvious points about the DLC fallacy that the only way Democrats can win is by pandering to the right and then links to David Sirota: Bowing down to those who undermine:
Democratic presidential contenders go suck up to the DLC, an organization whose for the last two decades has done everything it can to undermine the Democratic Party - even going to great lengths to attack Democratic presidential candidates it doesn't like. Then, hilariously, these same Democratic politicians who genuflect to the DLC claim to be shocked - shocked! - that the public has no idea what the Democratic Party stands for anymore.This is more than just idle talk from hard left blogosphere fanatics. The DLC's irrelevance and disconnect from the Democratic party has made it into the M$M:
Just look at this Knight-Ridder story detailing the agenda the DLC rolled out yesterday - it reads like Republican talking points:- Topping the agenda [DLC President Al From] wrote with former Clinton White House adviser Bruce Reed were several proposals on national security. "It's a toughness issue. We have to prove we're willing to pull the trigger," From said. In other words, the DLC argues that Democrats must show they are willing to indiscriminately bomb, kill and maim people in order to win elections, even though the public now fully opposes what we're doing in Iraq.And remember, this says nothing about the DLC's willingness to continually undermine every Democratic Party effort to make sure trade policy starts working for ordinary Americans.
- The DLC wants to "allow military recruiters unrestricted access to college campuses." Again, the American people oppose what we are doing in Iraq, and the DLC's response is to push for more militarization and to push for more recruitment of young people to send them off to fight overseas in wars based on lies that the DLC helped justify.
- The DLC wants "to cut the federal budget deficit, they proposed cutting congressional and nondefense government staff by 10 percent." Cutting "nondefense" is a nice way of saying cutting things like health care, labor rights enforcement, housing, etc - cuts the GOP is already proposing. In other words, instead of talking about wasteful spending in Iraq, the DLC wants the budget debate to focus on plans to hack into the social progress that Democrats have fought for over the last fifty years.
Sirota makes some additional points and concludes:
Sure, the DLC will technically exist forever - there are always corporate funding sources available to preserve an insular Washington, D.C. organization that shills for Big Business and the Republican Party agenda. But politically, the DLC - and its constant undermining of the Democratic Party - is on its way out in terms of real relevance.
My favorite article on the DLC/Hillary dust up came from Steve Gilliard at The News Blog, Going to the DLC meeting is crazier than Ricky Williams:
Whittman should be under no illusions as to the contempt he is held in by most Democrats. He worked for the Hudson Institute, home to various rightwing crackpots. Why not have Joe Trippi consult with Karl Rove on races. So his opinion is as relevant as mine on Jen's choice of lipstick.
The best part of Gilliard's article is his quote from Matt Taibbi:
No, I don't think you should run for the chair of the Democratic Party. I think you should get into your car, check into the nearest dingy motel, eat one last cheeseburger and blow your brains out.
Let's start with something small, your nickname. To begin with, it's taken. It belonged to a person that the world has judged to be of genuine historical import, a man with balls, a person who, by all accounts, literally bowled crowds of people over with his personality every time he entered a room.
You, on the other hand, are a nobody, a bureaucrat, a stuffed suit. You don't have a single idea of your own. You have to honk in order to get served at the local drive-thru. You think you're being cute and funny by taking Teddy Roosevelt's nickname, but it's not funny. It's sad. What you are, exactly, is a high school nerd who starts a Van Halen cover band and does David Lee Roth kicks when he rocks out in his garage in front of his only friend's eight-year-old brother. Outside that garage, the whole world concludes that you will never reproduce. That's you in your DLC offices, playing at being Teddy Roosevelt.
People are slowly coming to understand what the DLC is. You are a tiny gang of needle-nosed cubicle slaves hired to sell out the genuine political aspirations of millions of people. You have been hired to rush from newsroom to newsroom badmouthing almost every principle your constituents have held for decades, and to propagandize at every opportunity the hopelessness of such ideas as peace, tolerance and ideological backbone.
It's bad enough that you are who you are. But that you should have fun doing what you're doing is just flat-out intolerable. I wouldn't get too used to it, if I were you. But that's just one Mooseketeer's opinion.
This Mooseketeer could not agree more. It's time for the DLC to disband and rejoin the Democratic party.
eRiposte at The Left Coaster has an important story up about "the forged Niger documents and the CIA/Bush administration narrative about it."
...serious discrepancies are evident in the CIA's/Bush administration's claims about how and when they first became aware that the Niger documents were forged and on how they decided that the Niger intelligence was not credible. This raises serious questions about the extent of the Bush administration's manipulation of the truth about the "uranium from Africa" claim, their knowledge of the forged Niger documents, and their motives for attacking Joseph Wilson and exposing Valerie Plame's covert CIA identity.
I posted a lengthy smackdown of the Blueprint Magazine attack on liberals that Dave pointed to earlier today. I posted it at MyDD because I've been frustrated at my inability to both add comments to articles by other Seeing the Forest authors as well as my inability to respond to comments about my articles.
I share everyone's frustration at the spam problem Dave has been dealing with. I have no interest whatsoever in being a top down commentator and neither does anyone else here. I cherish robust feedback and vibrant discussion of the critical issues facing America. I know Dave is doing everything in his power to solve that the wingnut spam problem, so we can start generating comments and discussions here at Seeing the Forest.
We all appreciate the patience and diligence of our regular commenters and readers.
Thank-you for being a friend.
July 26, 2005
I was thinking, as time passes sometimes we can lose sight of the important things. Finding and punishing the person/people who leaked the identity of Valeris Plame is an important thing. From something I wrote earlier this month:
Just keep pounding on Rove, what he did, and why this is important. Rove outed a covert CIA agent working on keeping WMD out of the hands of terrorists. This "rolled up" her network of contacts, possibly getting some killed. And by exposing her he exposed her cover company, possibly causing damage to other agents and networks as well.
Rove did this at a time of war against terrorists. His act exposed all of us to increased danger of attack by those WMDs she was trying to keep away from terrorists.
If you've been reading various blogs you know about the special election next week in Ohio's 2nd Congressional district. We've got a right-wing Bush loyalist running against Paul Hackett, a former Marine Corps Major who served in Iraq. If he wins, he would be the first Iraq War veteran serving in the Congress. That, of course, scares the hell out of the Republicans. So, according to Hackett's opponent, there is some question about his service in Iraq. See if this sounds like something straight out of the Right's playbook, as in Swift Boat Vets, and the smears on Max Cleland, when a right-wing chickenhawk faces a military veteran:
"I understand that Hackett did not participate in combat at all. It is still dangerous over there as I can personally attest. Let’s just not act as though we led marines in combat if we did not, okay…And, later, (i especially encourage you to read the whole Salon piece)
I have asked the question time and again, what role did he actually play?
Given all the opportunities he has had to say “I served in combat” one fair conclusion is that he did not."
"Schmidt commends Hackett for his service, but believes Hackett should "stand with the president" by 'supporting the Iraqi war effort and our troops that are over there,' her campaign manager Joe Braun said.Hackett replied,
"The only way I know how to support the troops is by going over there." He doesn't hesitate to criticize Schmidt's support of the war: "All the chicken hawks back here who said, 'Oh, Iraq is talking bad about us. They're going to threaten us' -- look, if you really believe that, you leave your wife and three kids and go sign up for the Army or Marines and go over there and fight. Otherwise, shut your mouth."Read that again, it shows how to fight back against Republican smears.
Special Bonus - If you can actually BE in Ohio to help out, contact email@example.com to volunteer--there is housing available.
Demos' purpose is to help build a society where America can achieve its highest democratic ideals. We believe that requires a democracy that is robust and inclusive, with high levels of electoral participation and civic engagement, and an economy where prosperity and opportunity are broadly shared and disparity is reduced. Founded in 1999, Demos' work combines research with advocacy - melding the commitment to ideas of a think tank with the organizing strategies of an advocacy group.
The readers of this blog might be particularly interested in this project:
is working to directly challenge and roll back the conservative movement's thirty-year assault on the very notion of government. We have embarked on a major strategic "reframing" project designed to spark a dramatic shift in the public's understanding of the role of government, and to remind Americans of the public sector's core mission -- to be an instrument of common purpose and to enable citizens to accomplish together what they cannot achieve alone. Our conclusions and recommendations from this research will be published and widely disseminated later this fall, and we will work with advocates and elected officials around the country to help them change the nature of the debate.
Summary: The Republican Senate is putting off the Defense Authorization Bill at the NRA's request to have time for a vote on a bill forbidding lawsuits against gun manufacturers.
I agree with Altercation:
I don’t understand why the DLC thinks its job is to continue to attack liberals, here, much less to do so, as Atrios, points out here, by putting words in the mouth of people who did not say them, but merely hosted them. Me thinks Mr. Peter Ross Range owes a few apologies, while his bosses might want to suggest that he redirect his fire. (By the way, I don’t attack the DLC, though I disagree with much of they say and do. None of us has a monopoly on wisdom. They have turned out to be right and I have turned out to be wrong on a few things of absolutely crucial importance over the years. But really, what is the point of an organization with the words “Democratic” in its name that obsesses over attacking liberals, and then does so on the basis of false accusation?)Go to the original to follow its links.
However this variant has mutated into the most lethal strain of influenza ever recorded...
[. . .] Further complicating the effort to combat H5N1, it was reported that the People's Republic of China has been illegally administering the medication Amantadine to poultry; the result has been that the virus is now largely immune to the medication and is significantly deadlier. World Health Organization officials had been preparing to use the drug to fight a future pandemic and now it has been rendered useless.
[. . .] Three outbreaks of H5N1 have affected China in recent months but the World Health Organization has not received the information or the virus samples from infected birds that they requested. "It is a matter of urgency," said Roy Wadia, the WHO's speaker in China. "We stress that this virus is highly unpredictable and versatile and can change any time. It is highly dangerous."
With the union break up and Cox's appointment to the SEC in the headlines, we need to remember that anti-unionism is not the only method corporate America has of ripping off consumers and workers. Michael Hiltzik, who is guest blogging at Poltical Animal while Kevin Drum is on vacation, had a terrific column in the L.A. Times yesterday highlighting the war chest Big Pharma has accumulated to defeat Prop 79 in California. Another article in the business section featured how Fed Ex cheats "independent" truckers.
First, Drug Firms' $50-Million California Prescription The pharmaceutical industry, the business of which is ostensibly to make us healthy while making healthier profits for itself, is prepared to spend well more than $50 million to teach Californians what's good for us.
That's right. The robber barons at Big Pharma will be spending at least $50 million dollars to make sure they can continue to gouge American consumers billions of dollars to keep CEO bonuses from declining. Bush and the Republican party were their partners in crime when they passed Bush's Medicare Prescription Drug plan last year.
A separate article, FedEx Unit Faces Labor Lawsuits Contract drivers for the firm's trucking division contend they should be hired as employees, proves there is more than one way to skin an employee and details why drivers don't feel all that independent:
The drivers say FedEx controls just about everything they do — the hours they work, where and when they pick up or deliver packages, how they maintain their trucks, even how they dress. FedEx also prohibits drivers from using their trucks to carry non-FedEx shipments.
"They're calling these drivers independent contractors, but they're really employees," said Christopher Gilreath, a lawyer for a group of Memphis drivers who filed suit against FedEx in federal court last month.
Gilreath said more than a dozen similar suits were planned or had been filed around the country. The lawsuits directly affect small groups of current or former drivers, and some plaintiffs have already sought class-action status that could expand the reach of court rulings.
A state court in Los Angeles decided last year that one category of contract drivers for FedEx Ground should be treated as company employees. FedEx has said it will appeal.
McDonald's employees may fit Fed Ex's definition of independent contractors. And it sounds like they will even have snazzier uniforms.
With a little help from their Repubican friends and outsourcing, corporate America is turning us all into minimum wage service workers.
July 25, 2005
In Watergate's "Saturday Night Massacre" Nixon ordered special prosecutor Archibald Cox, Jr. to be fired. Both Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus resigned rather than fire Cox. Next in line was U.S. Solicitor General Robert Bork who did fire Cox (and was later rewarded with a notorious Supreme Court nomination.)
So now here it comes around again. See Daily Kos: GOP to investigate Fitzgerald. (More here.) The Republican Senate is adding an
intimidation investigation of the CIA Leak special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald to hearings designed to blame the CIA for the Rove leak.
Furthering the Watergate comparisons, someone pointed out to me that the 12-hour warning Gonzales gave to the White House is 38.9189 times worse than the famous "18 1/2-minute gap." (Blog by the same name here.)
OK, I'll turn of comment registration to see what happens with the comment spam.
I've been getting tons of Trackback spam, too. This is a Trackback ping that isn't really from a site linking to a post, but instead takes the reader to a commercial site. Mostly these are for online casino, online casino gambling, Texas Hold-em, and offshore gambling sites. (Sometimes for online prescriptions like order viagra or buy tramadol, and what the hell is carisoprodol?) Lately there have been a lot of blackjack ads, too. Also mortgage refinance. Nothing for Jessica Simpson yet. I guess this online betting thing is becomming very popular - you probably make a lot of money if you have an offshore gambling site. I play poker once in a while. (Or more.) Mostly I play Texas hold-em at PokerStars, an online poker site.
I open up my inbox today, and happened to glace at the Sacramento Bee's email update... and what are they leading with?
Feinstein complimentary after meeting nominee Roberts WASHINGTON (AP) - Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., met one-on-one with Supreme Court nominee John Roberts on Monday, emerging to compliment him as modest, thoughtful and impressive.
... do I need to read anything more? What the hell is she doing?!? (please give me your best guess in the comment section)
Feinstein [is] the only woman on the 18-member Senate Judiciary Committee that will hold hearings on the nomination. (empahsis mine, TL)
Doesn't it seem as if there is something wrong here? The first woman appointed to the Supreme Court, still only one of two women on it in a profession where women have acheived near parity in numbers, is retiring and the U.S. Senate can only muster one single solitary woman to assist in the evaluation of her proposed male replacement?!? 17 men and 1 single woman.
... and not a very "good" woman at that, it appears. :(
Answering a question -- in the News Sources listing on the left, down a ways, it is Drudge ReTort with a 'T'. So I changed it a bit to make it more clear. The listing now looks like this:
Information Clearing House
What REALLY Happened
Working for Change
These are essential sources of information. Tell people about them. Especially tell people who need to learn about alternative sources of news. Tell the quiet, shy secretary down the hall. Tell the loud right-winger in the Sales Department. Make copies of this list and stick it on bulletin boards and telephone poles or leave them in coffee shops, (adding the web address for each site because you can't click on paper.) We need more and more people coming to these alternative news sources, and blogs.
Did you know that you can click on "Email this entry" at the end of each Seeing the Forest post, and automatically e-mail the post to someone?
While I'm discussing sites, take a look at Patriot Daily.
And always, every day, go to the Daou Report.
This just in:
At 3:30pm today, Frank Lautenberg will unveil a new 'Web clock' on the Rove-CIA leak scandal. The calendar will be on display and will be used by lawmakers to highlight the number of days that have passed since the White House leaked the identity of a CIA agent and the Republican controlled Congress hasn¹t held one single hearing on the issue. Additionally, the lawmakers will release a letter to Speaker Hastert and Majority Leader Frist demanding the Congress take action and begin an investigation.From the Rove-CIA leak scandal clock page:
CIA Leak Case By the Numbers
Number of days after the article outing Ambassador Wilson’s wife appeared until the White House required its staff to turn over evidence relating to the leak: 85
Rough number of hours between when Alberto Gonzles gave Andy Card a heads-up about the investigation and when he formally told the staff to save their files: 12
Number of questions the Department of Justice asked the CIA to answer in detail before opening an investigation: 11
Number of D.C. Circuit Court judges who thought the issues involved in the Plame leak were serious enough to warrant jailing a reporter: 3
Number of D.C. Circuit Court Judges and Supreme Court Justices who disagreed: 0
Number of redacted pages in Judge Tatel's opinion: 8
Minimum number of hearings held by Senate Republicans to investigate accusations against President Clinton involving the “Whitewater” case: 20
Total hearings held by Senate Republicans to investigate the leak of the covert identity of Ambassador Joseph Wilson’s wife: 0
Total briefings requested by Senate Republicans on the damage assessment conducted by the CIA after the Plame leak: 0
Following the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Republicans responded by validating the bombers' complaints. They launched hearings blaming the government for the fire at the Waco Davidian cult compound and the shootings at Ruby Ridge.
They're at it again. In response to the White House betrayal of a CIA operative, Senate Republicans are launching hearings into why the CIA doesn't do a better job of keeping their operatives' identities secret. That's right, no hearings into the betrayal of her identity. No hearings into the cover-up and shredding. No hearings into the lies that led to war. No accountability of any kind. Just blame - and smear - the victim.
The Carpetbagger Report says The 12-hour gap is worse than you think
On Friday, Sept. 26, 2003, the CIA directed the Justice Department to launch a criminal probe into the leak. Three days later, on Monday, Sept. 29, 2003, the WH counsel's office was formally notified about the investigation. And then 12 hours after that, Gonzales told White House staff to preserve materials. In other words, the amount of time Bush aides were given to, perhaps, discard and destroy relevant evidence after the DoJ began its work wasn't just 12 hours; it was several days.This is getting more and more serious.
The Agonist thinks we deserve a victory lap.
An interesting rhetorical question headlines an L.A. Times editorial, Why are the Dems caving in on Cox?, by Jamie Court, Jamie Court, author of "Corporateering: How Corporate Power Steals Your Personal Freedom and What You Can Do About It" (Tarcher/Penguin, 2004), runs Consumerwatchdog.org.
A.) Because caving in is what Democrats do.
B.) It's a pavlovian response to Bush appointments.
C.) The Democratic Party is nearly as dominated by Wall Street campaign contributions and graft as the Republican Party.
D.) All of the above.
It sounds like a perfect opportunity to expose deep seated corruption in the Bush Crime Family and the Republican Party:
In a better world, next week's Senate confirmation hearings on the nomination of Rep. Christopher Cox (R-Newport Beach) to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission would be the Democratic Party's finest hour. The hearings offer a perfect opportunity to decry Wall Street's looting of Main Street and to put the GOP on trial for creating the conditions under which corporate criminals flourished.
Instead, Democrats have been eerily silent on Cox, a right-wing Republican who wrote a 1995 law making it harder for investors to take corporate swindlers to court. Cox's Private Securities Litigation Reform Act, which became law over President Clinton's veto, has been blamed for allowing some of the nation's worst financial scandals — including those at Enron and WorldCom — to proceed unchecked. The law let corporate executives off the hook for exactly the kind of utterly misleading statements Enron Chief Executive Kenneth Lay made to keep his company's stock price artificially high.
Jamie Court states the obvious:
Indeed, Cox — who President Bush has tapped as the best possible choice to be Wall Street's top cop — is the poster child for how laissez faire, country club Republicanism took trillions out of the pockets of Americans. If the Democratic Party can't find it within itself to stand against putting Americans' life savings in Cox's hands, the party doesn't stand for anything.
Corporate corruption is literally Cox's stock and trade:
Cox's approach to corporate crime predates his time in Congress. As a private securities attorney in the mid-1980s, Cox worked for William Cooper and his company, First Pension Corp. Cooper was accused of running a Ponzi scheme, convicted of fraud and imprisoned.
After Cooper was caught, Cox, then a congressman, claimed he had not known his client was a fraud. Nonetheless, Cox was sued by investors for what they said was his role in misleading regulators on Cooper's behalf. Cox's law firm settled the case.
Documents from the lawsuit show that Cox, acting as Cooper's securities lawyer, represented the plan — which ultimately went bust — as "low risk," and sought to minimize state oversight of it. Cox failed to disclose to regulators that Cooper's real estate license had been suspended in another alleged fraud and that First Pension was under investigation by the SEC. Whether this violates the rules of professional conduct governing attorneys is an open question the Senate should explore. But America shouldn't choose as its chief investment cop a lawyer who tests the very limits of those rules.
From the Dept. Of The Obvious:
So why don't Democrats seem to care? Beltway rumor has it that the Democrats are looking for a quid pro quo from Bush, under which the White House would accept Democratic leaders' choices to fill the party's two seats on the five-member SEC in return for silence on Cox. Friday, Bush announced his backing for the Democratic candidates.
Senate Democrats' willingness to accept such a quid pro quo from Bush would suggest that this party has no fight, no heart and no soul.
The M$M and the Bush administration have been lying about the conclusions of the SCII report for quite some time. It turns out that the SCII report supports Joe Wilson's broad conclusions about Iraq's efforts to purchase yellowcake from Niger and/or Africa.
eriposte over at The Left Coaster has actually read the SCII Report. Damned clever idea if you ask me. Uranium from Africa and the Senate (SSCI) Report - Part 1:
This is the first part of the series I introduced earlier today focusing on the findings on the "uranium from Africa" issue in the whitewash Senate Report - the report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI). This part addresses the following question:Isn't that interesting. That is exactly the opposite of the impression I've gotten from reading the M$M fairy tales about the SCII Report. What is even more surprising is that I have not heard a single Democrat rush to Joe Wilson's defense and correct the record.Did the conclusions of the Senate Report really provide justification for the claim that Saddam Hussein was in fact recently seeking significant quantitites of uranium from Africa?Without any doubt, the answer is a resounding NO.
Even Bob Somerby has been misled by media reports about the conclusions of the Senate Intelligence Committee report about the veracity of Joe Wilson's claims and the conclusions of The Butler Report.
To see why, let's first note the exact words used by George W. Bush in the 2003 State of the Union (SOTU):The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from AfricaBefore we get into the innards of the Senate Report on this claim, let me make an important observation. I've already shown that the British government, in reality, learned no such thing. The British may have claimed that Saddam sought uranium from Africa, but a reasonably critical review of their claims reveals them to be bunk -- and this was known before the start of the Iraq war.
(click through for links)
Having said that, let's review how the Senate Report did not really substantiate Bush's claim (note that all bold/italicized text in quotes are my emphasis, not the Senate Report's emphasis).1. The CIA and the British Government's claim
2. The Senate Report's own conclusions
3. The position of the CIA at the time of Bush's SOTU claim
4. The position of the CIA soon after Bush's SOTU claim
5. The position of INR prior to Bush's SOTU claim
6. The position of the State Department soon after Bush's SOTU claim
Here's one sample of what eriposte uncovered by actually reading the SSCI Report:
On October 2, 2002, the Deputy DCI testified before the SSCI. Senator Jon Kyl asked the Deputy DCI whether he had read the British white paper and whether he disagreed with anything in the report. The Deputy DCI testified that "the one thing where I think they stretched a little bit beyond where we would stretch is on the points about Iraq seeking uranium from various African locations. We've looked at those reports and we don't think they are very credible..." [page 54]
On October 4, 2002, the NIO for Strategic and Nuclear Programs testified before the SSCI. When asked by Senator Fred Thompson if there was disagreement with the British paper, the NIO said that "they put more emphasis on the uranium acquisition in Africa that we would." He added, "there is some information on attempts and, as we said, maybe not to this committee, but in the last couple of weeks, there's a question about some of those attempts because of the control of the material in those countries. In one case the mine is completely flooded and how would they get the material..." [page 54]
eriposte has much, much more.
July 24, 2005
"One of the most racist beliefs is because you're black, you know black.The black experience in America is generally discussed in terms of presumptive simplicity:
"Black people are almost never given the benefit of the doubt, because to do so would be presuming complexity and depth that we don't have, right?" he says a bit testily. "If I can just complexify things"—his term—"that'd be good. I've got to keep eroding that stone of monolithism." . . . There's always been a lag between the complex reality and the simple conversations about us. I'm just asking black people to honor that.In addition to Cosby, Dyson is directing his ire at self loathing blacks like Thomas Sowell, Clarence Thomas and Ward Connerly who use the color of their skin to manipulate and reinforce America's racist conventional wisdom.
[Update: Thanks to a heads up from Charles, I have added a link to the full article and corrected my careless citation.]
Dyson is politely asking Cosby to examine what turned him into a self loathing black man:
The worst thing, Dyson says, is that Cosby understands that, or did once. The book quotes from interviews dating back to the '60s in which Cosby acknowledged, if not downright emphasized, ongoing social and historical factors that have contributed to black problems. Not an uncommon view, but remarkable for a man who built a successful career and public image on minimizing race in general, and blackness in particular. "Cosby knows educational inequity and racism," Dyson says. "He's too smart not to know. He has culpable ignorance." So might Cosby simply be a crusader who got mugged by the criminally slow pace of change and flipped orthodoxies in middle age, a black version of David Horowitz? Dyson says maybe, but there's more to it than that. "He could be deeply conservative, but most of us are conservative," he says. "But by making his stuff look exceptional"—by deliberately setting himself apart from the rest of us—"he's not acknowledging that. Why?"
Whether he is aware of it or not, Cosby is playing into the over simplified cultural stereotypes of racist America:
the problem for him is that Cosby "got angry at them, not with them." Dyson says he did not want to slam the comedian nearly as much as he wanted to strenuously argue, as he always does, for the complexity of the modern black condition, especially internal struggles over class, character and image that have been simmering since Reconstruction but in 2005 are boiling over, partly because nobody wants those things to matter as much as they still do. Complexities like these are rarely given room in public dialogues about race, a persistent sin of omission that Dyson says is at the heart of American racism.
Like me, Dyson was most put off by Cosby's offhand condemnation of the least-moneyed, least-educated blacks as "these people" and as the primary source of all that's gone wrong. He says that if we're going to apportion blame, there's plenty to go around, starting with a black middle class that's been busy decoupling its interests from those of the lower class for several decades now and thereby steadily undermining the fortunes of the entire race. And don't get him started on *the broader context of America*—why should Cosby vilify blacks as anti-intellectual, he asks, when most of the high school seniors in the country can't find France on a map? " 'These people'—that's distressing," Dyson muses in a phone interview from Philadelphia. "If he had said 'nigga,' that would have been better. That's actually kinship. 'Hey, nigga!' But 'these people' is worse."
The facts illuminate a more complex tapestry than stereotypes will allow:
By the end of the book—well, halfway through—it's hard not to conclude that Cosby, for all his righteous anger, was way off the mark. Time and again Dyson cites studies, statistics and surveys that, contrary to Cosby's dire assessments, reveal poor and working-class blacks to be patriotic, socially conservative, hard-working, optimistic and much less likely to blame the white man or "the system" for their troubles than most people believe.
Ghettoism is high fashion:
It doesn't help that Cosby refuses to expand the boundaries of what he's really talking about, which isn't the dereliction of the black poor but something bigger: ghettoism. Ghettoism is about the manners and mores of all black people and how they play to white folks, and it used to be that being deemed "ghetto" was a high insult. But with the explosion and exploitation of hip-hop and thug life, there has been such a mad rush to ghettoism through music, fashion, slang and the like that it has become awfully tough—and more than a little hypocritical—to argue that people living the reality are doing, or being, anything wrong. The promiscuity and materialism that Cosby seems to think are emanating exclusively from the black poor are the raw ore of what I call the American ghetto-industrial complex, a vast array of entertainment-related businesses that includes record labels, movie studios, advertising companies, book publishers and video producers.
Dyson and Kaplan are both willing to give Cosby more credit than I am. Cosby is a bitter old fool:
Cosby was wholly disdainful of Dyson in a way I found disheartening, but also illuminating—in the end, Dyson to him is not a compatriot or even a worthy opponent but one of "these people," not uneducated or ghetto but just the wrong kind of black. I realized, finally, that Cosby is angry not about schisms of class or culture or language, but about blackness itself. He's angry that it takes up so much of his time, that it does not seem to be self-sustaining and that it needs so much, too much, to grow and prosper and to get right. He's angry that at the moment blackness, for all its outrageous ubiquity, is declining into a quiet apocalypse. Never a settled matter, blackness now feels horribly inefficient, slippery, not our own, wandering off in a wrong direction the moment we take our eyes off it, falling out of the census here, ballooning to grotesque proportions there. Deep down we'd all love to ignore our color, as we're increasingly admonished to do. But we can't. We shouldn't. The world, and our own consciences—which Cosby has, or else he wouldn't have bothered to say anything at all—won't let us.
Visit Michael Eric Dyson's webpage.
Stop by The Black Illuminator and check out the latest Think Piece, Economic Decline and the Color Line: Pragmatic Radicalism, Part II:
Black America has spent the past quarter century on the defensive against the conservative assault on equality – especially racial equality – inaugurated by the election of Ronald Reagan. The right’s program of reverse Robin Hood economics and smashing the limited instruments of fairness fashioned by liberalism between the end of World War Two and 1980 has been a brilliant political success that has deeply wounded black people.
Conservatives have reconstructed the system of racial inequality in the US by moving away from the racial police state of the Jim Crow era to a free market strategy of economic abandonment and incarceration. Under the new racial dispensation authored by the Republicans under Reagan and the Bush family, *with the approval of the Democrats under the aegis of the Clinton family*, blacks can vote – sometimes – own property, make money, and even marry across any and all color lines.
*What blacks cannot do is enlist the help of government in dismantling the barriers to economic and social equality that the toxic mix of free markets and petty racial hatreds throw in our way*.
But, strange as this may sound, black America may now be strong enough to fashion an economic model of development and justice based on a new mixture of self-reliance and limited progressive politics. The conservative assault on black America has been a nightmare, but it has also cleared the way for a new development path, if we have the courage and patience to take it. *Before outlining this potentially fruitful approach, we must understand how conservatism rebuilt American racism after the demise of Jim Crow*.
Big news! The White House was given a 12-hour warning to shred documents!
Frank Rich remembered the story:
As White House counsel, [Gonzales] was the one first notified that the Justice Department, at the request of the C.I.A., had opened an investigation into the outing of Joseph Wilson's wife. That notification came at 8:30 p.m. on Sept. 29, 2003, but it took Mr. Gonzales 12 more hours to inform the White House staff that it must "preserve all materials" relevant to the investigation.On Face the Nation, Bob Schieffer asked Gonzales who he told. Crooks and Liars has the video.
White House counsel Alberto Gonzales was told by the Justice Department to ask everyone in the White House to preserve all documents and materials related to the leak of a CIA agent. Gonzales called White House Chief of Staff and warned him that in 12 hours all staff members would be asked to preserve document. This gave the White House a 12-hour opportunity to shred and destroy anything they could find that might cause trouble.
For starters, did Mr. Bush know in the fall of 2003, when he was telling the public that no one wanted to get to the bottom of the case more than he did, that Mr. Rove, his longtime strategist and senior adviser, and I. Lewis Libby Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, had touched on the C.I.A. officer's identity in conversations with journalists before the officer's name became public? If not, when did they tell him, and what would the delay say in particular about his relationship with Mr. Rove, whose career and Mr. Bush's have been intertwined for decades?If Rove told Bush he wasn't involved, he lied to the President. Why is he still working in the White House? And, if that is the case, why do we have a President who would let someone who lied to him stay in the White House?
If Bush didn't ask Rove, or if Rove did tell Bush he was involved, why is Bush still in the White House?
From the NYTimes story,
By September 2003, as a criminal investigation was getting under way, Mr. McClellan was telling reporters that Mr. Rove had nothing to do with the leak, saying he had checked with Mr. Rove about the topic.So we have, at the very least, indications that either Rove lied to McClellan, the White House Press Secretary, or McClellan lied to the public. One or both should have been fired by now. That neither has, and bother continue in their jobs, says more about Bush than Rove or McClellan.
July 23, 2005
War forms its own culture. The rush of battle is a potent and often lethal addiction, for war is a drug . . . It is peddled by mythmakers-historians, war correspondents, filmmakers, novelists, and the state-allof whom endow it with qualities it often does not possess: excitement, exoticism, power, chances to rise above our stations in life, and a bizarre and fantastic universe that has a grotesque and dark beauty. It dominates culture, distorts memory, corrupts language, and infects everything around it, even humor, which becomes preoccupied with the grim perversities of smut and death. . . . War exposes the capacity for evil that lurks not far below the surface within all of us. And this is why for many war is so hard to discuss once it is over.
Page 3 continued:
The enduring attraction of war is this: Even with its destruction and carnage it can give us what we long for in life. It can give us purpose, meaning, a reason for living. Only when we are in the midst of conflict does the shallowness and vapidness of much of our lives become apparent. Trivia dominates our conversations and increasingly our airwaves. And war is an enticing elixir. It gives us resolve, a cause. It allows us to be noble.
The chief institutions that disseminate the myth are the press and the state. . . . The blunders andd senseless slaughter by our generals, the execution of prisoners and innocents, and the horror of wounds are rarely disclosed, at least during a mythic war, to the public.
. . .
The potency of myth is that it allows us to make sense of mayhem and violent death. It gives a justification to what is often nothing more than gross human cruelty and stupidity.
[Update: Bilmon has a few words to add about The War Of The Words.
I can't tell if Lieberman or Biden would make the best Republican. Excuse me, but do you ENJOY being in the minority??:
The absence of the Democrats is even more glaring considering just today the New York Times reported that Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald called Karen Hughes before the grand jury to testify as to her involvement in the leak-case. Of course, this begs the obvious question: Karen Hughes, did you have a role in leaking the name of an undercover CIA agent?
Even worse was this comment by Biden:
I am particularly interested in and supportive of the nomination of Karen Hughes to be undersecretary of state for public diplomacy. What this job requires, among other things, is continuity. The last two undersecretaries have stayed six and 18 months, respectively.
I met with the nominee yesterday and understand that, barring unforeseen circumstances, she is willing to stay through the president’s term.
I believe that she is highly qualified because of her professional background, and, importantly, enjoys the full confidence of the president and the secretary of state.
She will bring new energy and creativity to our public diplomacy efforts. I commend the president for choosing her and persuading her to return to Washington, and I look forward to working with her for the next three years on this important foreign policy priority.”
Wouldn't it be nice if either one of the Joe twins had as much admiration for the Chair of the DNC as they did for one of the sleaziest Republican operatives in history?
I'll miss him.
It's a lazy Saturday here, might not be posting much. So I recommend that you go to the blogroll on the left and click through to several blogs that you have not visited before. (Scroll down to where it says "Links to Other Weblogs:")
The great thing about the blogosphere is all the different voices. Some of the blogs you might not know about are saying things that are important for more people to read. The way for more people to learn about these bologs is for all of us to be in the habit of visiting new blogs, and recommending them. I try to practice this by keeping a comprehensive blogroll. In fact, help me out by letting me know if you come across a bad link, or a link to a blog that is not being updated. And suggest new blogs for the blogroll. Thanks.
Update - Also, on the left there is a list of great news sources like BuzzFlash. On the right there are news boxes - with current headlines - for BuzzFlash, Media Matters, PlameGate (DCCC) and Smirking Chimp.
And, of course, there are some great, dedicated advertisers to check out.
You can also place an ad and get your message or product in front of thousands of like-mined people. You can place a BlogAd by clicking where it says "Advertise at Seeing the Forest," at the bottom of the adstrip, or "CrispAds Blog Ads," under that adstrip.
And, finally, on the right, down a ways under "Subscribe," you can subscribe and get each day's headlines delivered to your e-mail.
July 22, 2005
I'm supporting Chris Bowers for Committeeperson, Ward 27, Division 2, Philadelphia, because I think Chris has the right stance on issues affecting our community. That's why I think Chris should receive Democracy for America's endorsement. Democracy for America (DFA) supports fiscally responsible, socially progressive candidates all over the country. One of DFA's main criteria is grassroots support. You can help Chris Bowers receive DFA's endorsement by recommending Chris on Democracy for America's website:
AMERICAblog nails the problem with the Right's "Don't ask a Supreme Court nominee any questions" request.
July 21, 2005
Sociatus has it right.
Which brings us to progressive and liberal bloggers at their worst– political junkies engaged in “he said she said” gossip, just like MSM pundits only generally with more thought, facts and intelligence.
I have no objections to political junkies getting their fix. But now would be a good time to take brief break from bingeing. Your country really does need you. Chances are, to be brutally honest, nothing you do over the next few days will make a huge difference either way with Rove or Roberts–not unless you have access to information that even Patrick Fitzgerald or the White House does not. But you can make a huge difference–as a citizen and as blogger–with the Patriot Act
A tad on the rude side, but Sociatus is spot on. This is the real battle and we've been flanked by the wingnuts. It's time to get a move on.
Visit the ACLU's site and e-mail and-or call Congress. Please spread the word. Protect the 4th Amendment and your other rights. We are in the final hours for the Patriot Act. Take a brief break from the Rove-Roberts controversies, just a few hours, and defend your rights as American citizens.
The comment spam is back and I have deleted over 200 spam comments just today. So for a while I am turning registration back on. I hope that TypeKey registration is working better. Sorry, no choice.
The extension of the Patriot Act passed the House an hour ago:
The final vote was 257-171. The bill makes permanent 14 of 16 provisions in the act set to expire next year and extends two others for another 10 years.
A simple rundown on what the Patriot Act actually does from Bilmon:
And I do mean closed. In some cases, deliberations on Patriot Act renewal themselves have been classified, and closed to both the public and the press. More grist for the Orwellian mill.
I'm not sure when these constitutional abominations are supposed to reach the House and Senate floors. But Sociatas is urging people to contact their elected "representatives" (I can think of some better words) as soon as possible. He includes links to a couple of ACLU pages that allow you to email or look up the phone number for your Senator or People's Deputy.
The partisan breakdown on the vote:
In the final tally, 14 Republicans bucked Bush and the party leadership to vote against the Patriot Act renewal. Among Democrats, 43 supported it, but 156 voted no.
Why the ongoing smearing of Joe Wilson? If you have listened to Rush lately you have been hearing an ongoing campaign to ruin one family - Ambassador Joe Wilson and his wife. Why is this the tactic The Party is using to defend Rove? Yes, it's what they do. But I think there might be more to it than that. I've been thinking about it with the question in my mind, "How does this help Rove?" How does smearing Wilson deflect that Rove revealed the name of a CIA agent?
I've been reading the DC Court of Appeals decision It's interesting that toward the end the decision refers to "the plot against Wilson."
The greater public interest lies in preventing the leak to begin with. Had Cooper based his report on leaks about the leaks—say, from a whistleblower who revealed the plot against Wilson—the situation would be different. Because in that case the source would not have revealed the name of a covert agent, but instead revealed the fact that others had done so, the balance of news value and harm would shift in favor of protecting the whistleblower.In other words, the reporter was participating in rather than revealing a crime, because the crime was the smear campaign against Wilson.
So apparently one of the reasons for sending Miller and Cooper to jail was that a crime was in progress - "the plot against Joe Wilson." If The Party is assuming this might be part of an upcoming indictment, increasing the smear campaign againt Wilson the Right is engaging in a strategic advance discrediting campain against the Special Prosecutor and the foundation of the indictment itself. By getting "the base" on board smearing Wilson, when the indictment comes out they can feel justified in going after the Prosecutor.
This ongoing smearing of Wilson and his wife is a continuation of the crime. Every time you hear Limbaugh or Hannity or any of the others continuing to smear Wilson and his wife, every time you read a right-wing blog engaging in the smear campaign, you are witnessing a crime.
Speech by Wangari Maathai, MP
Assistant Minister, Environment
2004, Nobel Peace Laureate
Nelson Mandela's 87th birthday celebrations
Johannesburg, South Africa
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
The consensus now seems to be that Roberts is an authoritarian establishment Republican, but not quite a movement conservative.
It's confusing the issue to say that as a government lawyer he was "just doing his job", so that the arguments he made tell us nothing about his own positions. Roberts is a member of the Federalist society, which is why he got most of his jobs, so we know he's very conservative. A few nuances or specifics are uncertain, but we can know that he will be very bad.
I think that people are mixing up the question of how bad Roberts is with the question of how ferociously he should be opposed.
He's bad, but (like Gonzales) not as bad as the worst. However, thinking that way allows the Republicans to continually float horror-show candidate possibilities in order to make other very bad candidates look sort of OK. I think that's what's happening.
During the last 10 years or so, all the rules of civility have become inoperative. No President "has a right to have his appointees confirmed" any more. Clinton didn't. (A deal was cut on Ginsberg, who is quite moderate, but no deal is being offered now). Dozens of Clinton's lower-court candidates were blocked.
So now an appointee can legitimately be opposed for any reason. There's no need to defer to the President, or to make a sophisticated legal argument, or to prove that the appointee is a perv or a monster. If you think he's too conservative, vote against him. And Roberts is too conservative.
The sad fact, though, is that the Democrats have a terribly weak hand because of the Senate losses in 2004. The chances of stopping Roberts, even with a filibuster, are slim to none. So I think the question now is to resist Roberts (knowing that we will lose) in whichever way sends the best message to the voters about the Democrats, the Republicans, and Roberts.
I'm not sure how that would be done exactly, but I think that that's what we should be talking about.
P.S. I'm pretty sure that Roberts will vote to overturn Roe vs. Wade. Sure, he has no paper trail and we can't prove anything, but what are the chances that the Bush people don't know what his position will be? What are the chances that Republican operatives aren't scurrying around among the pro-lifers right now to assure them that Roberts is OK? Let's not fool ourselves.
The fact is that we should oppose anyone Bush nominates, if we can achieve anything by doing so. That's how the game has been played recently. No reason to change anything now.
According to the website Age of Consent, which monitors such laws around the world, in Iran "Homosexuality is illegal, those charged with love-making are given a choice of four deathstyles: being hanged, stoned, halved by a sword, or dropped from the highest perch.Bush has pretty much handed Iraq (and its oil) over to Iran (it's all over but the troop withdrawals), delivering the people of Iraq over to this kind of "law."
That sounds about right. What else would you call a lawyer for the Bush Crime Family? Has a nice ring to it, don't you think?
That's pretty much the last ten years of American political history in a nutshell. While liberals sift and weigh the evidence, debate alternative points of view, and reach for that ever elusive "fairness," the conservative machine sifts and weighs alternative propaganda points, debates the best way to manipulate public opinion, and reaches for power -- first, last and always.
The modern conservative movement understands that fair and balanced is a marketing slogan: an Orwellian label for its exact opposite. Or, as David Horowitz wrote in his Art of Political Warfare -- a totalitarian how-to manual for GOP candidates and conservative activists:?You cannot cripple an opponent by outwitting him in a political debate. You can do it only by following Lenin's injunction: "In political conflicts, the goal is not to refute your opponent's argument, but to wipe him from the face of the earth."Lenin: (teary eyed) He's like the son I never had!
I think we all understand what the conservative response would be in the current situation if the tables were turned: Attack, attack, attack. Ted Kennedy clone! Wild eyed radical pro-sodomy extremist! Vince Foster's murderer!
I've been reserving comment on Roberts until I saw a politically viable reason for Democrats to oppose Roberts. From the L.A. Times, Confirmation Path May Run Through Florida: Roberts' low-profile role as an advisor to Republicans during the 2000 presidential recount fight is likely to be closely scrutinized.
This is perfect. The Bush Crime Family is trying to pretend that this is not a political appointment and Democrats don't know what to think, as usual. Everybody, including the American people, know this is a rank political appointment. That is exactly the way Democrats should treat it. Roberts is too political to be appointed to the Supreme Court. His resume and his involvement in the Florida recount, however limited, is sufficient reason for Democrats not to vote to confirm Roberts to a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.
This is sufficient reason to oppose Roberts:
As the 2000 presidential recount battle raged in Florida, a Washington lawyer named John G. Roberts Jr. traveled to Tallahassee, the state capital, to dispense legal advice.
He operated in the shadows at least some of those 37 days, never signing a legal brief and rarely making an appearance at the makeshift headquarters for George W. Bush's legal team.
But now Roberts has been selected for the very Supreme Court that put Bush into office by settling the recount, chosen by the president to replace the swing vote in that 5-4 decision. And his work in Florida during that time is coming into focus, giving critics some ammunition to paint a respected jurist with an apparently unblemished legal career as an ideological partisan
Roberts is a political hack. He might as well have been on the Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP).
Valerie Plame's identity was a secret. Or as eriposte puts it Treasongate: For the Nth time, She Was Covert:
Now, thanks to a heads-up from Ga6thDem, we have another confirming report from the great Walter Pincus (joined by Jim VanDeHei) in the Washington Post. I am also happy to see that the article (at least for now) is a front pager.
I wonder if Peter King has the WSJ reporter who wrote this story on his hit list of reporters, along with Chris Matthews and Tim Russert, who should be shot?
[Update: 7/21 6:30 a.m. PST] The word "Dentists" in my title was originally "Sources." I think the opinions of Dentists have far more credibility than the opinions of "Sources."
Both the WSJ and Washington Post printed this account of the memo that was circulated aboard Air Force One by Ari Fleischer. As eriposte puts it:
Another moment of Zen it is: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.
...The paragraph identifying her as the wife of former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV was clearly marked to show that it contained classified material at the "secret" level, two sources said. The CIA classifies as "secret" the names of officers whose identities are covert, according to former senior agency officials.
hmmmm. I wonder if Ken Mehlman or Peter King is going to be on one of the Sunday Funny Shows explaining how it is still a mystery whether or not Valerie Plame was really an undercover CIA operative?
I know. I know. It's naive of me to continue believing that at some point reality will penetrate the cable television and talk radio universe, but I continue to cling to the notion that even the most brazen White House sockpuppets will eventually conclude that Karl Rove is not worth sacrificing their last miniscule shred of human dignity. At some point the shame of defending treason will compel Sen. McCain or Sen. Voinivic or perhaps Sen. Hagel to break the Republican death pact and say enough is enough. Karl Rove must go.
July 20, 2005
[Just slightly reworked to change the format of links and include the article's title in the body of the letter. In my view, the referenced article is a classic example of how the dominant the conservative think tanks are in today's media discourse - even in the "capital" of "liberalism", the hometown paper can't find a single "progressive" source to quote. I cc'd the article to the Chronicle's Reader Representative. -Thomas]
I just read your article in Sunday's paper, CASUALTY OF WAR: THE U.S. ECONOMY... I'm wondering why you couldn't find a single "left of center-right" economist, think tank representative, or private sector critic to quote as a source in this article.
You quote talking heads from the Cato Institute, and the Heritage Foundation, two institutions which just barely qualify as "non-partisan", and certainly have a definitively "conservative"/"libertarian" ideology.
You quote "The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments" and "Center for Strategic and International Studies", both of which are "non-partisan", but which are part and parcel of the American governmental establishment (one of them has a former CIA director on its board, the other is lead by a former deputy Secretary of Defense).
Quoting a single Congressional Democrat among several conservative dissidents in no way constitutes a balanced article. I respectfully request that you cultivate a broader diversity of sources!
It also lists Gene Sperling, whose biography says, "He served in the Clinton administration as the President’s National Economic Adviser and Director of the National Economic Council."
Surely either of these gentlemen could have provided equally interesting commentary on the economic implications of the war in Iraq from a non-conservative point of view.
If you want to get really "radical", why not quote someone from the Institute for Policy Studies:
"For more than four decades, IPS has transformed ideas into action for peace, justice, and the environment. The Institute has strengthened and linked social movements through articulation of root principles and fundamental rights, research and analysis on current events and issues, and connections to policymakers, academics, and activists at all levels. As a multi-issue think tank that has worked with the movements that shaped the late 20th Century, from Civil Rights onwards, we offer a cross-cutting analysis with a historical perspective."
Not exactly the Cato Institute - but certainly something different from the "usual suspects". As a "left of center" Green, I feel left completely out when news coverage by the paper I subscribe to consists of arguments among various factions within the right (with a comment or two from the occassional moderate Democrat tossed in for flavor).
[Dear STF readers - If you have comments on The Chronicle's coverage, standards or accuracy, please call Dick Rogers, the readers' representative, at (415) 777-7870. Written comments can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org, faxed to (415) 442-1847, or addressed to Readers' Representative, c/o San Francisco Chronicle, 901 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94103. You can write the author of the above referenced article at email@example.com]
Here is the text of Bush's remarks at the swearing-in ceremony for senior members of the White House staff on Jan. 22, 2001.The liar.
An excerpt: "We have all taken an oath, and from this moment on it is our jobs to honor it. . . .
"[W]e must remember the high standards that come with high office. This begins with careful adherence to the rules. I expect every member of this administration to stay well within the boundaries that define legal and ethical conduct. This means avoiding even the appearance of problems. This means checking and, if need be, doublechecking that the rules have been obeyed. This means never compromising those rules."
The Political Teen has video of Seeing the Forest mentioned on MSNBC today.
In an earlier posting, I documented The Logic Of Violence, commenting on one right-wing blogger's idea that we should threaten to nuke Mecca as a means of pre-emptively blocking further Islamic terrorist attacks. In it, I pointed out that the blogger was not just a lone nut, and that Michael Savage, one of the most popular radio talk show hosts in the nation, had been advocating "pre-emptively nuking Arab capitals" for several years. This and similar thoughts are thus not that far from the mainstream of right-wing thought.
Well, guess what? Now we have Rep. Tom Tancredo, a member of Congress publicly raising the possibility of "taking out Mecca" in response to another terrorist incident in the United States. Question: if Newsweek's report of abuse of the Koran was "irresponsible", because it induced riots, then what do you call this? How do you think this will go over in the Muslim world? What do you think the public response would be if an American legislator suggested "taking out the Vatican" in response to a terrorist incident?
We can't let this slip by - this guy has suggested that we collectively punish the entire Muslim world, every man, woman and child, both living and yet to be born, by destroying one of their most holy sites, one that plays a central role in their religious practice, for the actions of a few irrational extremists. This is a violation of every international norm and standard of conduct, and if allowed to spread, will render our nation and citizens international pariahs.
Note that he also suggests that our only alternative is to turn the country into a police state. Isn't this effectively admitting that we are utterly incapable of protecting ourselves against terrorist activity, and that the hundreds of billions being spent in Iraq and on Homeland Security are a pointless waste of money?
Transcript of Tancredo comments
By Rocky Mountain News
July 18, 2005
Comments made by Rep. Tom Tancredo on Friday during an on-air interview on radio station WFLA in Orlando, Fla. Host Pat Campbell and the congressman were discussing the possibility of future terrorist attacks inside the United States.
Campbell: Worst case scenario, if they do have these nukes inside the borders and they were to use something like that — what would our response be?
Tancredo: What would be the response? You know, there are things that you could threaten to do before something like that happens and then you may have to do afterwards that are quite draconian.
Campbell: Such as...
Tancredo: Well, what if you said something like — if this happens in the United States, and we determine that it is the result of extremist, fundamentalist Muslims, um, you know, you could take out their holy sites . . .
Campbell: You're talking about bombing Mecca.
Tancredo: Yeah. What if you said — what if you said that we recognize that this is the ultimate threat to the United States — therefore this is the ultimate threat, this is the ultimate response.
I mean, I don't know, I'm just throwing out there some ideas because it seems to me . . . at that point in time you would be talking about taking the most draconian measures you could possibly imagine and because other than that all you could do is once again tighten up internally.
Copyright 2005, Rocky Mountain News. All Rights Reserved.
During the hubub over Bush's reactionary activist nominee to the Supreme Court, we shouldn't forget about America's favorite traitor. Hat tip to Stubborn Liberal for the best title du jour and a fine collection of turd blossom droppings.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that the CIA referred a criminal complaint to the Justice Department because one of their NOC agents had been ratted out. No matter how much the Turd Blossom Dittoheads complain, treason is the only explanation for Fitzgerald's investigation.
The only question is how many and who.
Sunni Muslim members on a committee draftingIt's hard to put into words just how bad this is. It could mean civil war. The United States had a moral, ethical and legal obligation to provide sufficient security after we invaded. The looting and riots that followed the invasion - and our government's lack of concern - showed that sucurity just was not on the radar of the right-wingers in charge. They dispatched sufficient forces to guard the Oil Ministry, but didn't bother to inspect the supposed WMD sites. They didn't even bother to guard the high-explosive storage depots!
Iraq's new constitution suspended their participation Wednesday in the wake of a colleague's assassination, saying they need more security.
[. . .] "This place is unfit" for recruiting, said Capt. Hussein Ali, a police officer. "This is the seventh or the eighth attack on the same place."
But now, beyond the deaths of somany American troops and Iraqi civilians, we see that there was a geopolitical reason to provide security as well - even if they didn't care about the people. Their own empire-building agenda is undermined, and an Iranian-linked Islamic Republic hostile to the United States is the most likely outcome.
And what kind of surrealist cover story would the GOP propaganda machine come up with to convince the Fox News audience that fighting and dying to keep Khomeini lovers in power is really a good thing?
My Mom's from rural Missouri, so I get the Ozark's Newsstand in my email inbox... this article caught my attention this morning: Polk County families lose Medicaid coverage due to state budget cuts.
Clearly, at least some of the folks in the Red States are following the money.
The woman featured in the story just lost her Medicaid eligibility a couple of months ago, and now her three children are losing theirs. Budget cuts - state doesn't want to raise taxes. She makes too much money. How much is too much? $342/mo.
... maybe my perspective is a little bit distorted, living here in Santa Cruz, where that won't even pay for the rent on an unconverted chicken coop, but how in the hell is anyone supposed to survive on less than that?!? With three children?!?
How is someone who earns $350/mo. supposed to afford medical care? Where are they supposed to come up with the money for a doctor visit... as a parent, I know my two kids can easily ring up half a dozen visits to the doctor inside of a single month. Three kids? You could easily spend $350/mo. just paying for doctor visits and associated lab fees - not counting medications, trauma care, or serious/long term medical issues.
Of course, the state (and the Feds too, I guess) don't really care that all they are doing with these changes is shifting the costs - monetarily, onto the pocketbooks of hospitals, private sector insurance companies, and self-insured patients. Shifting money from low cost, pre-emptive/preventive/early stage care to expensive emergency room trauma care.
But more importantly, shifting the costs to the bodies and well being of the working poor - and their children. Your kid falls out of a tree and wacks her arm on something, then complains loudly about it hurting... 9 times out of 10, it is nothing and will go away overnight - but you go to the doctor anyway, just in case - but what if you don't have the dough? Well, she either suffers for a day or two until you become convinced that she has to go to the doctor (most likely the emergency room), or you go to the emergency room right away... well geez, there goes your "savings" in the Medicaid budget for the year.
Problem ain't that bad... child just acting not too peppy and whining about this and that unspecific problem? Take her to the doctor - hmm, there's a low grade sinus infection. Or not, if you don't have the money... that's Republican cost shifting for you: onto the bodies and well being of the children, who have no ability to help themselves, and really shouldn't be held responsible for their parent's inadequacies.
The Boston Globe asks Will Bush give Rove a pass?
So why has Bush not acted? It seems there are two possibilities. The first is that he is a man of his word only when it suits his interests. Rove has been instrumental in Bush's political success. Perhaps Bush meant to say that he has one set of rules for his advisers and another for everyone else. The second, more disturbing, possibility is that Bush authorized, either explicitly or implicitly, the leak to retaliate against Joseph C. Wilson IV, who publicly presented evidence that the administration was distorting facts to sell the American people on going to war. Either way, the president has painted himself into a corner.Stop the cover-up.
OK. Everybody can put their hands down now. That was a rhetorical question prompted by a query from the razor sharp Niewart at Orcinus, Eliminationism from the top:
The Plame affair, it seems, really has Republicans snarling, their usual response when backed into a corner.
You can tell that because now the eliminationist talk is coming from the Bush White House's own mouthpiece -- namely, Rep. Peter King, who's been selected as the House point man for defending Karl Rove.
And of course we need to keep in mind the Seeing the Forest Rule. When Republicans accuse, they are really describing their own tactics.
King was on MSNBC's Joe Scarborough show the other night and, according to the MSNBC transcript, had this to say:
And Joe Wilson has no right to complain. And I think people like Tim Russert and the others, who gave this guy such a free ride and all the media, they're the ones to be shot, not Karl Rove.
From the Department Of The Obvious: Not a single Democrat has suggested that Karl Rove should be shot. As far as I know, we are perfectly willing to settle for Karl being frog stepped out of the White House in cuffs. That won't stop hacks like Peter King and Rush from accusing Democrats of resorting to their Rove patented gutter politics:
I haven't seen the tape of the show, but the quote is enjoying an odd half-life on the radio, thanks to Rush Limbaugh, who alters it slightly to "ought to be shot", and then chimes in inimitably: "That's Peter King, who's right on the money."
Just wondering: Have any Democrats in Congress -- or Joe Wilson, for that matter -- suggested that Karl Rove be shot?
Neiwert answers his rhetorical question with the obvious:
Ah, I didn't think so.
A little late on the ball (I have a life, unfortunately), but the Swing State Project is participating in a July 19th one day event (Happy Blogosphere Day) to help raise funds for Paul Hackett, a Democrat running for a special election to Congress in Ohio's 2nd District - and to demonstrate the power of the Blogosphere to change the financial dynamics of a political race overnight.
So far, according to Act Blue, he's raised over $100,000 from approximately 2000 donors in a single day.
Pretty impressive. Not quite a match for the Republican fundraising machine (which deals in $50,000 chunks of chump change, not $50 chunks), but still quite nice.
July 19, 2005
Swing State Project is gathering information on Supreme Court nominee John Roberts at SCOTUS: Ethically Challenged John Roberts
Bush was going to nominate someone for the Court later in the summer. Instead the White House obviously rushed the nomination out tonite in an effort to distract the press from covering the story that the White House - most notably Karl Rove - leaked the identity of a CIA agent. In fact, this was a direct statement of the Republican strategy:
"Republicans should stop holding back and go on the offense: fire enough bullets the other way until the Supreme Court overtakes" events, said Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.)But is this nomination about more than just the timing?
Bush has nominated a Ken Starr clone, one of those partisan insiders who can be counted on to do the bidding of the "conservative movement," to the Supreme Court. Was it because Bush is worried that the CIA leak case is headed to the Supreme Court? Did Bush nominate Roberts as a Court vote to protect Rove? Is the nomination of Roberts part of the cover-up?
California Dems keep the pressure cooker going for The Porkinator, Governor Is Focus of Ethics Complaint:
Top Democrats say that Schwarzenegger's lucrative contract with a publisher violated state laws over political gifts.
The manly Porkinator hides behind his wife's petticoats:
"It's the way it is in life — you encounter problems and you try to eliminate them as quickly as possible and then move on," Schwarzenegger said, according to Associated Press. He quipped that his wife, Maria Shriver, might be more upset than he was to relinquish millions of dollars.
"I have no problem about the money, but my wife has a little problem with that. She thinks it means less diamonds or something like that," Schwarzenegger said.
I have never gotten the impression that Maria Shriver was a material girl airhead. Is it possible The Porkinator is facing some couch time?
Scotty and the White House have made a big deal out of not commenting on an ongoing investigation. Think Progress asks an interesting question. Mehlman and the White House: What's the connection?
Has former Rove deputy Ken Mehlman discussed the Plame matter with any White House officials, specifically Karl Rove, in the past three weeks? What was the specific nature of those conversations — who was involved, how long did they last, what was discussed?
The answers to these questions are important. If the answer to the first is yes, (a) the White House claim to be “not commenting” on the grand jury investigation falls apart, since administration officials are merely pushing their talking points out to Ken Mehlman; and (b) Mehlman immediately loses serious credibility, since he has suggested that he has not coordinated his message on the Plame investigation with the White House.
I've got a question for Atty. Gen. Gonzalez. Is he going to pursue unauthorized leaks as aggressively as Ashcroft did?
The Bush White House and the Right Wing Smear Machine would have us believe that there is only one statute that Rove and Scooter Libbey could have violated when they leaked Valerie Plame's name. Hat Tip to King of Zembla for pointing us in John Dean's direction, Leak Laws.
As it turns out, John Ashcroft prosecuted a similar case:
Former White House counsel John Dean, always looking for a fresh angle, mentions yet another statute that the Ashcroft DoJ invoked in a "relatively minor leak case that it vigorously prosecuted, though it involved information that was not nearly as sensitive as that which Rove provided Matt Cooper.
Isn't that interesting? The Ashcroft Justice Department set a precedent for rigorously prosecuting leakers.
(click through to King of Zembla for links)
I am referring to the prosecution and conviction of Jonathan Randel. Randel was a Drug Enforcement Agency analyst, a PhD in history, working in the Atlanta office of the DEA. Randel was convinced that British Lord Michael Ashcroft (a major contributor to Britain's Conservative Party, as well as American conservative causes) was being ignored by DEA, and its investigation of money laundering. (Lord Ashcroft is based in South Florida and the off-shore tax haven of Belize.)
Randel leaked the fact that Lord Ashcroft's name was in the DEA files, and this fact soon surfaced in the London news media. Ashcroft sued, and learned the source of the information was Randel. Using his clout, soon Ashcroft had the U.S. Attorney in pursuit of Randel for his leak.
We all know how serious Atty. Gen. Ashcroft was about enforcing our drug laws. It looks like it was OK with the Ashcroft Justice Department to be a drug kingpin, as long as your politics were politically correct:
By late February 2002, the Department of Justice indicted Randel for his leaking of Lord Ashcroft's name. It was an eighteen count "kitchen sink" indictment; they threw everything they could think of at Randel. Most relevant for Karl Rove's situation, Court One of Randel's indictment alleged a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 641. This is a law that prohibits theft (or conversion for one's own use) of government records and information for non-governmental purposes. But its broad language covers leaks, and it has now been used to cover just such actions.
This may explain why Ken Mehlman refused Tim Russert's offer to agree in advance with whatever conclusion and indictment Fitzgerald returned from his Grand Jury investigation:
Randel, faced with a life sentence (actually, 500 years) if convicted on all counts, on the advice of his attorney, pleaded guilty to violating Section 641. On January 9, 2003, Randel was sentenced to a year in a federal prison, followed by three years probation. This sentence prompted the U.S. Attorney to boast that the conviction of Randel made a good example of how the Bush Administration would handle leakers . . . .
A year in prison doesn't seem nearly sufficient punishment for a more serious leak that affects national security. Randel should be out on probation by now. I wonder what's going through his mind right now?
While there are other potential violations of the law that may be involved with the Valerie Plame Wilson case, it would be speculation to consider them. But Karl Rove's leak to Matt Cooper is now an established fact. First, there is Matt Cooper's email record. And Cooper has now confirmed that he has told the grand jury he spoke with Rove. If Rove's leak fails to fall under the statute that was used to prosecute Randel, I do not understand why.
There are stories circulating that Rove may have been told of Valerie Plame's CIA activity by a journalist, such as Judith Miller, as recently suggested in Editor & Publisher. If so, that doesn't exonerate Rove. Rather, it could make for some interesting pairing under the federal conspiracy statute (which was the statute most commonly employed during Watergate)
Another Hat Tip to King of Zembla for linking up, of all people, Jeff Gannon with the State Department Memo that either Colin Powell or Ari Fleischer carried on to Air Force One. We Smell A Ratfucker:
The "conservative news outlet" to which the dubious INR document was leaked was Talon News, and the seasoned investigative reporter who promoted it in print was that indefatigable bloodhound -- or should we say bulldog? -- J.D. Guckert, aka "Jeff Gannon."
July 18, 2005
"...if someone committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration."Let's Google some names:
But it sounded good to the focus groups.
Brad Delong and Bob Somerby do a wonderful job of keeping us posted on the crimes and failures of our major media. However, they do not ask much about the reasons for these crimes and failures. (DeLong, of course, is always asking "Why, oh why?", but he never goes beyond that-- it's purely rhetorical).
DeLong still pretends to believe that it's just a problem of individual incompetence and bad hiring, but there's really been a systematic pattern or error, and the slant is consistently rightward. Somerby recognizes that there is a pattern, but he doesn't ask why this is happening either.
Obviously it's is a management problem. The Washington Post and the New York Times, for example, have been especially disappointing to mainstream liberals. Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., is the chairman both of the New York Times Board of Directors and the New York Times Executive Board. Donald E. Graham is the chairman of both the Washington Post Board of Directors and the Washington Post Executive Board.
There's no mystery. The reason why these two newspapers are incompetent, dishonest, and slanted to the the right is because these two men want them to be that way. The reason the well-paid tools who write for these newspapers write and think so badly is that even the smart ones know that Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. and Donald E. Graham want them to write badly and dishonestly. The rhetorical questions can now stop.
"Isn't there more to the question than this?" you may ask. Yes, probably. That's why, below the fold, I've put links to the official websites of the two newspapers, together with complete lists of their various boards. I'm sure that people smarter than me can tell us who the other key players and evil geniuses are.
This is all stuff that Chomsky, Nader, and their ilk tried to tell the Democrats ten or twenty years ago. The rightwing takeover of the Democratic Party was an enormous disaster, and we (the American People) may never recover from it.
People tried to tell them.
Update: Not much response. Obviously everyone is terrified of Graham and Sulzberger: The Untouchables.
* John F. Akers
* Brenda C. Barnes
* Raul E. Cesan
* Lynn G. Dolnick
* Michael Golden
Vice Chairman, The New York Times Company
Publisher, International Herald Tribune
* William E. Kennard
* James M. Kilts
* David E. Liddle
* Ellen R. Marram
* Thomas Middelhoff
* Janet L. Robinson
President and Chief Executive Officer
* Henry B. Schacht
* Arthur Sulzberger, Jr.
Chairman, The New York Times Company
Publisher, The New York Times
* Cathy J. Sulzberger
* Doreen A. Toben
* Arthur Sulzberger, Jr.
Chairman, The New York Times Company
Publisher, The New York Times
* Janet L. Robinson
President and Chief Executive Officer
* Michael Golden
Vice Chairman, The New York Times Company
Publisher, International Herald Tribune
* Leonard P. Forman
Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
* Martin A. Nisenholtz
Senior Vice President, Digital Operations
* Solomon B. Watson IV
Senior Vice President and General Counsel
* Hussain Ali-Khan
Vice President, Real Estate Development
* R. Anthony Benten
Vice President and Treasurer
* Rhonda L. Brauer
Corporate Secretary and Senior Counsel
* Philip A. Ciuffo
Vice President, Internal Audit
* Jennifer C. Dolan
Vice President, Forest Products
* Ann S. Kraus
Vice President, Compensation and Benefits
* James C. Lessersohn
Vice President, Finance and Corporate Development
* Catherine J. Mathis
Vice President, Corporate Communications
* Kenneth A. Richieri
Vice President and Deputy General Counsel
* Neal Roberts
Vice President, Organization Development
* Stuart P. Stoller
Vice President, Process Engineering and Corporate Controller
* David A. Thurm
Vice President and Chief Information Officer
The New York Times Company and The New York Times
The New York Times
* Scott Heekin-Canedy
President and General Manager
* Bill Keller
* Gail Collins
Editor, Editorial Page
* Donald E. Graham
Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer,
The Washington Post Company
Chairman, The Washington Post
* Warren E. Buffett
Chairman of the Board, Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
* Barry Diller
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, IAC/InterActiveCorp
* John L. Dotson Jr.
Former President and Publisher, Akron Beacon-Journal
* George J. Gillespie, III
Attorney, Member of Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP
* Ronald L. Olson
Attorney, Member of Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP
* Alice M. Rivlin
Visiting Professor, Georgetown University
Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution
* Richard D. Simmons
Former President and Chief Operating Officer, The Washington Post Company
* George W. Wilson
President, Concord (N.H.) Monitor
WASHINGTON POST EXECUTIVES
* Donald E. Graham
Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer,
The Washington Post Company
Chairman, The Washington Post
* Patrick Butler
* Diana M. Daniels
Vice President, General Counsel, and Corporate Secretary
* Ann L. McDaniel
* Christopher Ma
* John B. Morse, Jr.
Vice President, Finance and Chief Financial Officer
* Gerald M. Rosberg
Vice President of Planning and Development
* Daniel J. Lynch
* Wallace R. Cooney
* Pinkie Dent Mayfield
* John F. Hockenberry
Peter Daou's Daou Report has a new page just for the Rove Scandal.
It's the Republican Culture of Corruption.
The Carpetbagger Report is asking questions about Rove's Security Clearance Agreement. You'll be hearing a lot more this week about this - it's a big deal. Standard Form 312 is a nondisclosure agreement for federal officials, laying out rules for discussing classified information. We know from Rove's lawyer's own statements that Rove, of course, broke those rules.
In Memo To Rove: Read the Classified Information Nondislcosure Agreement, Think Progress goes into some detail. Swing State Project is also on it.
Rep. Henry Waxman wrote Friday about Karl Rove's Nondisclosure Agreement, pointing out that Rove clearly violated the Agreement and the White House has not come through on its obligation to revoke Rove's clearance.
Under the executive order, the White House has an affirmative obligation to investigate and take remedial action separate and apart from any ongoing criminal investigation. The executive order specifically provides that when a breach occurs, each agency must "take appropriate and prompt corrective action."More on this at The Stakeholder. As does Liberal Oasis' Bill Scher, blogging at Huffington Post.
. . . The executive order further provides that sanctions for violations are not optional.
. . . There is no evidence that the White House complied with these requirements.
Meanwhile, Cooper Learned of CIA Wife From Rove Call
Time magazine's Matthew Cooper says a 2003 phone call with White House political adviser Karl Rove was the first he heard about the wife of Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson apparently working for the CIA.
[. . .] The White House had insisted for nearly two years that neither Rove nor Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis Libby, had any connection with the leak of Plame's name.
Democratic Veteran asks, Could it be any clearer than this?
It seems that all the major media outlets are falling for the easy republican talking point that there is no problem for Rove, because Wilson (and his report were discredited) by many, many wise men. What does this talking point ignore? That Valerie Plame's cover as a CIA operative was compromised, and by doing so all the operations and operatives she had worked with and groomed to feed information back to CIA about actual Weapons of Mass Destruction (and or components, precursors, transactions and anything related) were terminally and completely fucked from then until forever. Who knows if people lost their lives, livihoods and of course confidence in being able to cooperate with CIA never knowing whether or not their contributions to our National Security will be sold down the river by a petulant partisan politician.TalkLeft has a Question About Cheney and Wilson. Cheney claims he had not met Wilson and didn't know him - Jeralyn shows pretty convincingly that Cheney must have. (And remonds us of Cheney claiming never to have met John Edwards -- until a picture surfaced.)
Nice job on the whole keeping our country safe morons. What's next, blue state flypaper?
Crooks and Liars has a great video of Bob Schieffer blasting the White House.
BooMan Speculation on Rove,
I'm guessing that the big enchilada was the March 8th, 2003 meeting where the decision to investigate Wilson was made. That meeting allegedly took place in the office of the Vice President, and was attended by Cheney, "Scooter" Libby, Newt Gingrich, Steven Hadley, and perhaps Rove.Grey Matter
I don't know what Fitzgerald's got, or how high he wants to set his own bar. But if this were containable wouldn't Rove be gone already?
Democrats can't rely solely on Air America and the liberal blogosphere to keep this controversy on the front-and-center burner. Instead, they need to take a page from the Clinton playbook and assemble a control center (ala Carville/Stephanopoulos) that conducts intensive research and strategy, and responds immediately.Iddybug brings Michael Ledeen into the mix.
Shakespeare's Sister says, Don’t Insult Me:
Something that drives me absolutely insane is when I am treated as a fool. You see, I have a brain, quite a good one as it happens, and I like to use it. When someone tells me something that is so obviously a lie, so clearly absurd and counter to everything that reason and logic would otherwise suggest, it absolutely infuriates me—more so that they demonstrably think I am an idiot, than because of the underlying lie.
This is how the Bush administration treats us all, relying on the fact that most Americans, unfortunately, are either trusting, ignorant, or crooked enough to take them at their empty word. Well, I’m neither gullible, nor uninformed, nor a fan of their Machiavellian ends-justify-the-means strategies, and I’m tired of being treated as a fool. It’s time to get real. And this is the reality…
July 17, 2005
I have three sound reasons for despising Senator Biden. The first is his singular role in passing the legislative abomination that was called bankruptcy reform. The second reason is that he is a warmonger lite Democrat who has been spinelessly supportive of Bush's Iraq war. The third reason I despise Senator Biden is that he continually refers to George Bush as a "good man." George Bush is not a good man and Senator Biden is contemptible for saying he is.
Duckman over at The Left Coaster has an article that should be required reading for every Democrat. Patriots and the GOP.
First, the warm up:
Well, I've pretty much had it the bushco regime. Really, really, really, had it.
I'm tired of trying to decide who I hate more, which is the greater outrage, what has caused the greatest harm to my country.
Then the smackdown, which is music to the ears of any true patriot:
Frankly, they're the sum of the parts, the slimy, fetid, pustulent leaking cardboard box of them, the skeletel, blue-white arm of coulter dangling over the edge, the pasty faced doughboys like rover and newtie and denny and spinnin scottie hanging over that edge and vomiting their filth down the sides, the pompous, bleating lies echoing from the box from big time dick, robertson, limbaugh, hume, like the death rattles from the dungeons of the Spanish Inquisition. All cut from the same smallpox infested cloth.
Enough is known about the role of Karl Rove, and other White House operatives, to say with finality that there is treason afoot in the Bush administration. Any Republican or conservative who attempts to deny it is no patriot.
Any Republican or conservative who attempts to deny that there is sufficient evidence of treason to merit a full scale investigation, that may very well lead to impeachment, is putting politics and ideology above love of country.
July 16, 2005
60 Years Ago Today , great picture.
UPDATE: Hmm... I appear to have hit a nerve, as Ms. Ridenour has dismissed this posting as "leftie silliness" and "way too partisan". What's the STF rule? If they accuse you of doing it...
Seriously folks, it is possible to scuttle this guy's nomination. The Democrats did it to Nancy Drinkard (from my neck of the woods) when local environmentalists protested - they can do it again.
ORIGINAL STORY: Time to make a fuss, folks... the Governator is attempting to appoint a golden boy of the right to the California Board of Forestry, and he's hoping the Democrats in the State Senate don't notice his track record and associations or don't think it is worth the political capital required to force him to come back with someone more reasonable. Call your State Senator today and tell them to oppose this guy, make this appointment D.O.A. today.
Here's the news blurb:
Ronald Nehring, 35, of El Cajon, has been appointed to the State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection. He has served as senior consultant for Americans for Tax Reform since 1998 and is currently a member of the Governing Board for Grossmont Union High School District. Nehring is also the vice-chairman of the California Republican Party. He was previously director of development and public affairs for the National Center for Public Policy Research. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $100 per diem. Nehring is a Republican.
Innocous enough? Well... John Meyers of Capitol Notes point out that this guy is an aide to anti-tax/anti-government crusader Grover Norquist.
This guy is the worst possible pick for the Board of Forestry; check out this NCPPR blog entry from Amy Ridenour... "It looks like Ron Nehring and everyone else involved in preventing and fighting forest fires [aka promoting "Healthy Forests"] will have their work cut out for them. Good luck to all of them."
To give you an idea of how this guy thinks, here's a quote of his from an earlier posting of hers, referenced in the entry above:
"And as for global warming, the government can't even put out a FIRE, and they think the government can affect the whole PLANET??? They should get their priorities straight. When they've mastered the skill of putting a bucket of water on a fire, they can come back and talk about doing something with the planet."
She says that this guy is responsible for putting "Project 21" (an initiative to promote "black conservatives" in the media) on the map (one of the primary NCPPR programs described in the Media Transparency article below).
Also, check out this article by Bill Berkowitz from Media Transparency on the "National Center for Public Policy Research": Tom DeLay's Right Arm
This article goes into great detail about the anti-environmental efforts of this think tank, focusing specifically on their "Earth Day Information Center" project... which offered "to provide journalists and broadcasters with scientists and policy experts who are able to discuss Earth Day-related issues."
The guy who did the research to track down who these people were says, "This is hard-core anti-environmental ideologues presenting themselves as spokespersons for Earth Day 2005."
Not exactly the resume one would look for in someone entrusted with stewardship of California's forests. This guy is not just your average run of the mill mainstream Republican... he's one of the right wing's golden boys, raised and nutured (and enriched) in the hothouse environment of right-wing think tank utopia. One of the primary conditions for success in this environment is to believe, heart and soul, in the inherent evilness and incompetence of government (and never question it even once) - this guy is *GUARANTEED* to vote the WRONG WAY on EVERYTHING - his career, his position in the movement, everything demands this. Bad bad bad.
This is not an innocuous appointment, this is a total sell out to the "wise-use", hard right.
I hope the Democrats in the Senate make an issue of this and force Arnold to come back with someone more reasonable - but given the relative lack of prominence of this appointment, it probably requires that we in the Blogosphere make a lot of noise before that happens.
Last week the Republican Chairman SAID he was sorry for the way Republicans have treated blacks in the past. But what does the Republican Party DO? See Oliver Willis :: Why Is The Republican Party Promoting A Hate Site?
I really think that Rove is in trouble, and that his loss will seriously reduce Bush's ability to get much more of his program through. And that's all good.
But I have to confess I'm taking much joy from the spectacle. For one thing, I really never thought it would ever be my task to defend the poor little CIA against bad people.
More seriously, when it becomes necessary for the executive branch to be investigated by special prosecutors, etc., it shows that the electoral system (and the media) really aren't working very well. Nixon, Reagan, and Dubya all had obvious major deficiencies, but democracy was helpless against them.
If something like this was happening in a foreign country, we'd regard it as an internal power struggle going on secretly within the elite. And I think that that's what we should think is happening right now.
Bush has followed the Humpty Dumpty strategy all along: screw things up so badly that they can't be fixed. Even if he's stopped now, he's been very successful already.
What would cheer me up? Basically, the Democrats putting together a strong team with a non-accomodationist strategy, and an honest media springing up to compete with the media we've got now.
The L.A. Times demonstrates that it can cover a story when it wants to. There is going to continue to be more public exposure of how the CIA works and the details of the life of a NOC operative than the agency every wanted anybody to know. Karl Rove has unleashed a flood of information that will make his name synonymous with Benedict Arnold for decades.
Even at this late date, there is still concern at the CIA about additional information being revealed. This story was clearly vetted, but I have no doubt it reveals more information than the agency wanted the whole world to read about in a front page story. Consider the implications of this story being damage control from the CIA.
Several months after her identity as a CIA operative was exposed in a newspaper column, Valerie Plame had dinner with five of her classmates from the agency's training academy.
Four had left the CIA, and they spent the evening catching up on what they'd done during their clandestine careers, as well as the jobs and moves that followed. But even though Plame's "cover" had been cracked wide open, her dinner companions didn't pry for details. Even in that tight circle, no one wanted to spill any more secrets.
"Cover is a mosaic, it's a puzzle," said James Marcinkowski, a former CIA case officer who attended the dinner. "Every piece is important [to protect] because you don't know which pieces the bad guys are missing."
One fascinating gem that I have been wondering about puts the issue in stark perspective from the agencies point of view:
The total number of NOCs is believed to be in the dozens, although the exact number is a closely guarded secret, and some NOCs can spend decades in their assignments.
Dozens? I would have guessed in the hundreds. Here is the type of agent I was thinking of and what the Right Wing Spin Machine would have you believe Valerie Plame was:
The vast majority of the agency's overseas officers are under what is known as "official cover," which means they are posing as employees of another government agency. The State Department allows hundreds of its positions in embassies around the world to be occupied by CIA officers representing themselves as diplomats.
Valerie Plame was a valuable asset who had put her life at risk for her country:
NOCs are known for taking extreme risks as part of their work. If caught by a foreign intelligence service, they have no diplomatic immunity to protect them from prosecution under their host country's laws.
NOC agents are a very rare asset and this story confirms that there is absolutely no question that Plame was a NOC agent.
A more rare and dangerous job category is "nonofficial cover" — or "NOC" (pronounced knock) — in which CIA officers pose as employees of international corporations, as scientists or as members of other professions. Such covers tend to provide a plausible reason to work long periods overseas and come in contact with foreign nationals the agency wants to recruit.
Plame worked under official cover early in her career, but moved to nonofficial cover during the 1990s, maintaining that status after she returned from overseas to work at CIA headquarters.
Plame had certainly been pulled from the field:
In recent years, she has worked in the counter-proliferation division of the agency's clandestine service. Despite her continued use of commercial cover until Novak's column, some former CIA officials contend she was not a NOC in the purest sense of the term, because operatives in that super-secret program rarely go near agency facilities, let alone take jobs at headquarters
Valerie Plame had not been working in the field recently, but her career and usefulness as a NOC agent was far from over. Read the rest of the article for some fascinating details and examples of what the life of a NOC agent is like and how seriously the agency takes keeping a NOC agent's identify secret. The CIA forwarded a complaint to the Justice Department because the agency is very serious about the lives and welfare of NOC agents. They wanted to nip in the bud what could have become a political fashion trend of revealing the identity of NOC agents. They didn't care who got burned.
Nobody messes with the CIA.
Bilmon has a very intriguing post up that accepts the assumption that Karl Rove actually did learn Valerie Plame's identity from a reporter. Only the reporter was Judy Miller instead of Robert Novak. That would certainly explain the big mystery about why Judy Miller is the only person sitting in jail.
After parsing all of the possibilities, inclulding the possibility that Rove still had a legal and ethical obligation to keep Plame's identity secret, regardless of where he learned it from, Bilmon ponders the implications:
The first is that Judy Miller very well may be the key to the case. If Rove (as well as Scooter Libby) testified that they originally heard about Plame from another journalist, and if Fitzgerald has decided (probably based on phone records) that Miller is that person, then it's easy to see why Judy is sitting in jail right now. She's the only person in the world who can contradict Rove's story. However, if Miller is Rove's original source, she would have many reasons to want to avoid testifying, including:protecting her original source
not being indicted under the espionage statute (if she knew that Plame's relationship with the CIA was classified information)
not having to admit publicly that she was a cog in Rove's intelligence gathering and sliming operation.
If Miller did tell Rove that Plame was a NOC, then to that list you could add:avoiding the need to choose between fingering the most powerful political operative in the country or committing perjury in front of a grand jury.
If Miller actually was Rove's source, then I'm guessing that jail cell in Alexandria probably doesn't seem like such a bad place to be right now, considering the alternatives.
Well that certainly puts Judy Miller's noble sacrifice for "the profession" in a different light doesn't it? Is the ass in CYA hers? Visit The Whiskey Bar if your throat is parched for more analysis and information.
July 15, 2005
Today is Seeing the Forest's third birthday!
The Retirement Plan of the Unemployed ManThanks skippy for reminding me.
I took a trip down to the local liquor store to put a couple of dollars into the retirement plan. It’s up to $86 million this week. So I was thinking about what I’ll do with the money, and I started thinking about the taxes. Then I realized that rich people get rich by inheriting money, while working people (or unemployed people) get rich by winning the lottery. The Republicans say that people who get their money from inheritance shouldn’t have to pay any taxes. But I’m going to have to pay a huge amount of taxes when I win tomorrow night. It’s just one more way The Man beats you down.
The latest excuse, Reports: Rove Learned About CIA Officer's Identity From Journalists.
OK, just for fun, suppose this is true that reporters called Rove telling him that Valerie Plame was a covert CIA operative. Why didn't Rove immediately go to the proper authorities to warn them about a serious security leak? Should someone with judgement like that be at the very top of our government?
China threatened us again.
“We . . . will prepare ourselves for the destruction of all of the cities east of Xian. Of course the Americans will have to be prepared that hundreds . . . of cities will be destroyed by the Chinese.”
Gen Zhu is a self-acknowledged “hawk” who has warned that China could strike the US with long-range missiles. But his threat to use nuclear weapons in a conflict over Taiwan is the most specific by a senior Chinese official in nearly a decade.
At an impromptu news conference shortly after Australia turned down his request for political asylum, the bookish Chen announced that he'd spent the last four years managing a network of 1,000 informants and spies in Australia on behalf of the Chinese government.Note that Australia turned down his request for asylum.
[. . .] Like those of most countries, China's intelligence efforts employ a system of concentric circles, analysts said. Unlike U.S. intelligence agencies, with their reliance on satellite data and high technology, China is known for its "humint," or human intelligence.
"They can and do send out thousands of people with limited tasking, flooding the target country," said Larry M. Wortzel, a former U.S. Army attache in Beijing now at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington.
China has three kinds of spies, asylum-seeker Hao told Australian reporters: "professional spies" paid to collect information, "working relationship" spies operating in business circles and "friends" in less formal networks, a category analysts said Chen's 1,000 spies would fall into.
China employs a relatively small number of well-trained, professional spies, intelligence analysts said, charged with digging up the most sensitive military secrets and strategic policy.
In the second tier, China relies on well-placed front companies and scientists to go after key technologies, including dual military and civilian-use products that are easier to acquire than top-secret military items.
"But you use dual-use or trading companies as far from the embassy as possible," said an intelligence expert who declined to be identified. "They're a big radioactive tag."
In one recent case, a Chinese American couple in Wisconsin was arrested on suspicion of selling China $500,000 worth of computer parts with potential applications in enhanced missile systems. [emphasis added]
[. . .] The case has also embarrassed the government of Prime Minister John Howard, which critics accuse of putting trade ahead of human rights to avoid angering Beijing, a charge the administration denies.It's really time to think about whether we want our military bogged down in the Iraq quagmire, whether we should be borrowing hundreds of billions from China, and whether we need a draft.
President Bush and Karl Rove have driven better men than Bob Somerby to the brink of insanity and stark raving shrillness. It has been well documented that The facts were driven shrill and even objective reality is shrill and unbalanced.
I fear that Bob's constant exposure to Bush and Rove has driven him unshrill, an unholy condition worse than the fate of the undead. I ask Seeing the Forest readers to join hands in shrillness and offer a prayer from the Krugmanomicon for Bob's speedy recovery:
Hige Sceal þe Heardra, Heorte þe Cenre, Mod Sceal þe Mare þe Ure Maegen Lytlað!
Aaaiii! Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Keith Olbermann R'lyeh wagn'nagl fhtagn! Aaaiii!!! Yog-Sothoth! Shrub-Niggurath!! The Black Goat with a Thousand Young Who Hates America Is Here!!!!!!!
aaiii! Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Eric Umansky R'lyeh wagn'nagl fhtagn! Aaaiii!!! Yog-Sothoth! Yog-Sothoth!! YOG-SOTHOTH IS HERE!!!!!!!
Illegal war? Bah! Why talk about that now? Look, a bird! Aaaaiiii! Aaaaiiii! N'ppeakkeeth hynd c'rtainnn! Powell sssh'rt timm'rr! Aaaaiiiiii!!!!
I am confident that the prayers of Seeing the Forest readers will restore Bob to his customary state of holy untranquil shrillness.
July 14, 2005
California Governor Schwarzenegger was, by all appearances, paid at least $5 million, possibly much more, to veto food supplement regulation, specifically a bill to restrict the use of performance-enhancing supplements by high school athletes.
Schwarzenegger was paid to be a "consultant" to American Media, a company that publishes, among others, Men's Fitness, Muscle & Fitness, Muscle & Fitness Hers and Flex -- magazines that receive the bulk of their revenue from ads for "performance-enhancing supplements." Schwarzenegger receives a percentage of that revenue, and vetoed the bill to regulate these drugs. But his consulting duties are not clear, except that the job "takes up little time."
Mr. Schwarzenegger entered the arrangement with American Media in November 2003, a few weeks after being elected and two days before being sworn into office.$Moolah from companies that get their revenue advertising "performance enhancing" supplements. The more ads they get, the more moolah he gets. He vetoes the bill restricting these drugs. Do you think there might be a connection?
[. . .] Under the five-year contract, Oak Productions, Mr. Schwarzenegger's company, is to receive 1 percent of the net print advertising revenues of Weider Publications. But the payment must be at least $1 million a year.
Mr. Schwarzenegger has also been granted "phantom equity," a way of sharing in the growth of the value of the company. The equity could become worth 1 percent of the company's value, which was stated at the time of the contract as $520 million.
Update - It's the Republican Culture of Corruption.
Here is what it all comes down to: A top Presidential advisor has admitted revealing to a reporter the identity of a CIA agent.
And that advisor is still in the White House. Bush hasn't done anything about it.
So it's time for the focus to shift to Bush.
The President won't fire an aide who revealed the identity of a CIA agent. And that President is still in the White House.
As I reported yesterday, Bob Somerby has been absorbed by The Rove Collective. His normally reasonable and analytical mind has completely broken down. In the second part of today's Daily Howler Bob demonstrates the standard inability to See the forest for the trees that typifies the weakness of The Rove Collective Mind.
Bob is actually focusing on two trees. One tree is the infamous sixteen words in Bush's SOTU speech. The second tree is Joe Wilson's N.Y. Times editorial. Bob ignores thousands of acres of surrounding forest. He takes a very technical look at the sixteen words in Bush's speech and concludes that it is impossible for Joe Wilson to know to an absolute certainty that President Bush was lying to the American people.
Bob is so focused on the possibility that Bush could have been telling the truth, as he knew it at the time, that he ignores all of the signals of intentional deceit.
First, Bob ignores the fact that the very same statement had already been removed from previous Bush speeches. Do we know for a fact that Bush was aware that this phrase had been removed from his previous speeches? No. Does that make any difference? No. A President of the United States is uniquely responsible for the veracity and accuracy of statements made in a State of the Union Speech.
Bob ignores the fact that Bush's infamous sixteen words were not a casual reference made in a press conference or uttered casually to a reporter as he boarded Air Force One. The President of the United States has a higher obligation when he makes statements that mislead the American people into war, than someone giving a Friday night speech to their Toastmasters Club.
The infamous sixteen words were a set up to his entire administration spam blasting the American media and the American people with the image of a mushroom cloud. There is a slight chance I am wrong, but I do not believe anyone in the Bush administration mentioned a mushroom cloud until after Bush's SOTU speech. It was the threatening image of a mushroom cloud repeatedly suggested by Condi, Rummy and Cheney that created the imptetus for invading Iraq.
Second, much of Bob's analysis is based on the fact that it is impossible for Joe Wilson to have known to an absolute certainty that Bush was lying when he uttered his sixteen words. Wilson and others had plenty of reason for suspicion and it turns out they were correct. In Bob's weakened mental state, as a result of being absorbed by the Rove Collective, Bob ignores the broad background of what was known about Bush's tendency to lie. How many books have been written about Bush's lies? I don't know. Maybe Bob can tell us when he recovers.
Third, Bob makes an incredible assumption that Joe Wilson was as ignorant about Africa, before he visited Niger at the request of the CIA, as Bob himself is. The reason Joe Wilson was selected was not solely because his wife Valerie suggested he could do a good job. If Valerie Plame had recommended her husband Joe, who had never stepped foot in Africa, the CIA would certainly had selected someone else. It was because Joe Wilson had extensive contacts and background knowledge about the entire continent of Africa that top level CIA managers, who presumeably wanted an accurate report, decided to send Joe Wilson.
Now for a point by point refutation of Bob's shoddy analysis of the Niger yellow cake issue. Bob made four major points today.
(1.) Bush didn't say a transaction took place; he only said a transaction was sought.
Technically true and meaningless. Bob chooses to ignore the fact that the carefully calibrated sixteen words in Bush's speech were not carelessly inserted, but demonstrate intent to deceive. Bob also chooses to ignore the fact that Bush has been proven wrong. Nobody has demonstrated that there was ever at attempt by Saddam to purchase uranium ore. For some reason Bob is ignoring the factual inaccuracy of Bush's statement under the assumption that it could have been true, if only it hadn't been false.
(2.) Bush described an attempt to purchase uranium "in Africa."
Again, technically true, and meaningless. Bob again ignores the fact that even if Bush had said "somewhere on the face of the earth," it would have been a false statement. Saddam never attempted to purchase uranium anywhere on the African continent. Bob's analysis is based on the slim reed that it was impossible for Joe Wilson to know to a certainty that Bush was lying.
Is it impossible for Joe Wilson to absolutely rule out the possiblity that Bush was talking about some other African country? Yes. Was it a reasonable assumption for Joe Wilson to make that Bush's sixteen words were related to his trip to Niger? Absolutely.
Is it also possible that Joe Wilson's extensive background knowledge about the African continent could have allowed him to make the reasonable assumption that Bush's statement was as false about the entire continent of Africa as it was about Niger? Yes. Do either Bob or I know to a certainty what was in the heart and mind of either Bush or Wilson? No. So what. We all have to make reasonable assumptions about the world and the people in it every time we leave the house.
It is peculiar that the fact that Bush's statement was wrong, and Bush had probably been alerted more than once that the statement was not accurate, does not enter into Bob's analysis. How can Bob ignore the fact that the very same statement had been removed from prior Bush speeches, because it was known to be highly questionable?
(3.) Bush was referring to British intelligence that no one in the US had ever seen
Another completely irrelevant point. This is Bob's most bizarre and completely illogical argument. What difference does it make if no one had seen factually false intelligence? Is there a process of intel alchemy that transforms false British intelligence into accurate intelligence if no one in the U.S. has seen it? Is it a point in Bush's favor that neither he nor anyone in his adminstration had seen the intelligence his statement was based upon? The fact that Bush uttered his infamous sixteen, words based on unseen as well as unverified British intelligence, may be the most damning fact about the entire situation. When you consider the gravity of a SOTU and the seriousness of the claim Bush made, his sixteen words are made even more indefensible by this point.
(4.) a statement the Brits still say is well-founded
This statement is actually technically false for being over broad. It is not the "Brits" that say their statement is well founded. It was a [British Government Commission http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butler_Review] and Tony Blair who continue to insist their intelligence was well founded. Bob should have been more precise about which Brits "still say [their intel] was well founded."
There are many Brits that are very suspicious that the Butler report was a whitewash, exactly like the discredited British Hutton Report and our own half finished and half baked 9/11 Commission Report as well.
Does Bob Somerby believe that the British government never lies to the British people? It is hard to believe Bob is that naive. Of course Tony Blair and official British government spokespeople claim their intelligence was well founded, even though it has proven completely false. To this day it has never been demonstrated that Saddam ever tried to arrange a purchase of uranium from anywhere on the continent of Africa.
Is it still possible that Saddam may have at some point attempted to arrange a purchase of yellow cake from some country in Africa? Sure. It is also possible that Bush will announce his resignation for misleading America into an immoral war. I'm not going to hold my breath.
Just as I did yesterday, I wish Bob a speedy recovery from his absorbtion by The Rove Collective Mind.
ROVEGATE -- July 10, 2005 --Newsweek magazine is reporting on the contents of a July 11, 2003 email between reporter Matt Cooper and Time Washington bureau chief Michael Duffy that was handed over, along with other email and notes, to special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. Although the email shows that Rove talked to Cooper about Ambassador Joe Wilson's wife, there is no mention of how columnist Robert Novak obtained the information on Brewster Jennings & Associates, the carve out brass plate firm that was used by Valerie Plame and her colleagues and which was rolled up as a result of the leak. Rove and his lawyer are trying to limit the spin to Rove "not knowing" Plame's name, let alone that she was a covert CIA agent. Yet Plame's association with a non-official cover (NOC), by default, means that she was covert, pure and simple. Brewster Jennings reportedly "suffered greatly" as a result of the disclosure, according to a knowledgeable source. Another source reported that at least one Brewster Jennings NOC operating in a hostile intelligence environment was executed by counter-intelligence agents as a result of the White House disclosure. Other B&JA assets were forced to abandon their ongoing operations to identify networks involved in weapons of mass destruction proliferation. The CIA has been working on a damage assessment report on the Plame/B&JA disclosures. If no indictments of White House officials result from the Fitzgerald investigation, look for parts of that highly classified report to be leaked and then look for more imprisonments of journalists who refuse to divulge the source(s) of those leaks. Word from intelligence sources is that the damage assessment report is "devastating."(Thanks to Randi Rhodes show.)
Driving to the office and running some errands this morning, I had the radio on to Rush to see what they're spreading today. It was some of the worst ever from him. Apparently the CIA and the State Department are anti-American leftists determined to bring communism to America, or something like that.
Now, if a reporter's right to shield her sources arises from the public's need to know information, then Judith is going to jail for the exact opposite reason - because she wants to make sure the public doesn't know information that it is in the public interest to know.
... If a powerful government official is using the press to smear his enemies; is using the press to insert lies in order to sell a war; or is using his position to break the cover of undercover agents who are working to make sure I don't get killed in a nuclear explosion one day; the information I need is who that man is and who is aiding him in doing these things. That's the public interest.
Eric Alterman: Smearing patriots,
One thing worth keeping in mind is the quality of the people they are seeking to smear. Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame were both life-long public servants. Wilson, whom the right is seeking to smear as a partisan-minded Democrat—not that he wouldn’t have the right to be if he chose—contributed to the presidential campaign of George H.W. Bush, and took many hazardous and unpleasant duties on behalf of his country.
... Valerie Plame, meanwhile, lived her entire life under cover—no small or easy thing—in the service of her country.
Here is what I think the Rove thing will come down to: Is Patrick Fitzgerald, U.S. Attorney for northern Illinois, the special prosecutor investigating the Plame leak, able to withstand the kind of intense pressure and character assassination that will be applied to him?
If Karl Rove is known for anything, it is what happens to people who go against him. Remember the Rove quote, "We will fuck him. Do you hear me? We will fuck him. We will ruin him. Like no one has ever fucked him!"
Everyone understands this, right down to obscure candidates in "backwater" states. From an AP story today: "I think he should resign," said Jim Holt, a GOP state senator from Arkansas who is running for lieutenant governor. He joked, "I hope Karl Rove doesn't come gunning for me."
People nervously joke about this, but it is not a joking matter. Ask Joe Wilson, Plame's husband and the current target of a Rove smear campaign. Rove said of Wilson, "Get him!" and the ENTIRE Republican smear machine went into operation. Senators, Congressmen, The Republican Party, TV anchors, newspapers, and the entire AM radio band but for Air America went into full-time operation smearing one person.
Here's the clue: Rove "burned" a CIA agent working to keep WMDs out of the hands of terrorists during a war against those terrorists, and you can't find a single Washington Republican willing to say that was wrong. That is beyond just cultish ideological loyalty, that is pure fear.
Declan McCullagh recently posted an item to his "Politech" list regarding efforts by several federal law enforcement agencies to induce the FCC to mandate various and sundry "features" be incorporated into airborne communications technologies that would assure law enforcement of the ability to monitor and control any and all communications aboard an aircraft in flight.
The more technically knowledgable of his readers immediately pointed out that the requests were (mostly) technologically unfeasible, expensive to implement (when possible at all), and would do little or no good in terms of deterring or preventing terrorist acts from being completed (and might possibly be even counter-productive, by inhibiting the efforts of passengers to co-ordinate a response or communicate the nature of the situation on board).
Reading through the various responses, I was reminded of what Osama Bin Ladin said last November, shortly before the election:
"All that we have mentioned has made it easy for us to provoke and bait this administration. All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al-Qaida, in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies.
This is in addition to our having experience in using guerrilla warfare and the war of attrition to fight tyrannical superpowers, as we, alongside the mujahidin, bled Russia for 10 years, until it went bankrupt and was forced to withdraw in defeat.
All Praise is due to Allah.
So we are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy. Allah willing, and nothing is too great for Allah."
"... al-Qaida spent $500,000 on the event, while America, in the incident [9/11] and its aftermath, lost - according to the lowest estimate - more than $500 billion.
Meaning that every dollar of al-Qaida defeated a million dollars by the permission of Allah, besides the loss of a huge number of jobs.
As for the size of the economic deficit, it has reached record astronomical numbers estimated to total more than a trillion dollars."
The actions of Federal law enforcement (FBI, DHS and Justice) in this matter, along with a whole host of other stupidities (Bruce Schneier talks about this in a recent issue of his CRYPTO-GRAM email newsletter) perpetrated by our government, are busily forwarding Al-Qaida's openly stated goals. This would be hysterically funny, if it wasn't so utterly insane, expensive and harmful to the future welfare of myself, my children, and the country as a whole!
In view of the willingness of the U.S. Gov't to follow Osama's plans to the letter, it is perhaps no wonder that we haven't seen a terrorist incident in the U.S. since 9/11 ... why should AQ waste its resources when we're happy to forward their goals, or, even worse (from their perspective) why should they do something to make the stupidity and uselessness of our current actions so blatantly obvious that we actually wind up being driven to do something intelligent in this area for once?!?
Argh! The collective stupidity of our leadership (which extends to both sides of the aisle), and the citizenry (which is doing nothing to hold them accountable for effective action) on this issue drives me nuts. How many trillions of dollars in costs, lost productivity and other "security" induced inefficiencies is the country going to have to endure before we collectively wake up and smell the coffee on this issue?
July 13, 2005
The normally rational Bob Somerby has been temporarily absorbed by the Rove Collective and is relying on Debra Orin and Matthew Continetti from the Weekly Standard to join in bashing Joe Wilson. As far as I can tell, Bob accepts the Rovian spin that Joe Wilson was lying, even though he has been proven right. Rove and Cheney were telling the truth, even though they have been proven wrong. We wish Bob a swift recovery from his weakened condition.
Pay a visit to Digby if you want to cut to the chase. The bottom line is that who actually influenced the decision to send Joe Wilson to Niger, whether Cheney made a formal request to the CIA to investigate the yellow cake rumor, whether Cheney actually read Wilson's report and when Joe Wilson mentioned that certain Niger documents contained inaccuracies are all pecadillos that ignore the real story.
[Update: 07/14/05, 7:00 a.m. PST] Digby link repaired thanks to alert by Green Knight. For superlative and extensive coverage of this story Digby is on fire and The Left Coaster has Talking Points for Treason: Part II that are indispensible.
The obvious truth is that Joe Wilson was correct that Niger had not provided yellow cake to Saddam, and was not preparing to provide yellow cake to Saddam. At one point, the White House spin surrounding the yellow cake accusation was that their intelligence was not limited to Niger, but included all of Africa. That briefly made Wilson's accurate allegations more difficult to prove, but has also been proven wrong.
The only truth coming out of the White House is the same lame old rationale that Bush based his sixteen words on British intelligence. I fail to see how that gains any credibility for either Bush or Rove. The careful parsing of the sixteen words in Bush's speech proves conscious intent to deceive.
The White House was lying then, and they are lying now, because that's what they do.
In Fox News: Anti National Security, Oliver Willis links to a video of a Fox News commentary that says all that needs to be said about "conservatives" and REAL patriotism.
As you watch the video, keep in mind that:
1) In 1991, the acting U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Joe Wilson, sheltered 800 Americans at the embassy in Baghdad during Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait.
2) His wife Valerie Plame was a CIA covert operative working to keep WMD out of the hands of terrorists.
Now, having watched the video, what have you realized about so-called "conservatives" and "patriotism" and maintaining a "strong defense"? Those are just words. Are they words to live by? Not if it gets in the way of the interests of The Party.
If you DO want to get into a point-by-point refutation of the Right's lies, take a look at The Left Coaster: Treasongate (Part VI): Response to GOP talking points
The world welcomed the latest news out of Pyongyang indicating that it will rejoin the 6-Party Talks now that a new US negotiating team is involved. The U.S. has reversed course and is willing to talk to North Korea, stop saber rattling, and do what is necessary to get the North to the table. But there is more.
With professional diplomats now in charge, the 6-Party Talks have in only 3 sessions agreed on major points: a multilateral dialogue; a Nuclear Free Korean Peninsula; an inspection system; and a permanent regional security forum. This last point is key – it means that the Bush Administration, has recognized that negotiating makes more sense than saber rattling.
However, there is an even more hopeful development. An unofficial, “backchannel” set of negotiations launched by citizens has been ongoing since 1992 to establish a Limited Nuclear Weapons Free Zone for Northeast Asia. In unofficial meetings between retired ambassadors, generals, admirals, scholars, business executives and peace activists, with the tacit but deniable approval of the US military and State Department, a group of dedicated citizens hammered out the elements of a nuclear free zone that would start a process of limited denuclearization – including nukes on US ships and subs in the region. The agreement would obligate the nations involved to withdraw certain kinds of weapons from an area they all agree to. The states pledging not to have nuclear weapons (Japan, North and South Korea, Mongolia, and Taiwan) would form a League of Non-nuclear States, and the nuclear weapon states (China, Russia, and the U.S.) would provide a good faith “buy in” by removing a percentage of their existing tactical nuclear weapons. This would be a first anywhere in the world.
The citizens’ group, launched by Professors John Endicott and Patrick O’Heffernan at Georgia Tech in 1992 and guided by Endicott for 12 years and 2 US Administrations, has not completed its work. But it has done enough to convince the 6-Party Talks participants to look closely at the idea of a limited nuclear weapons free zone in the region. A Limited Nuclear Free Zone for Northeast Asia would be the kind of good news that could give the world new hope . Full details of the North Asia Limited Nuclear Free Zone talks can be found at www.cistp.gatech.edu
The Republican strategy now is to attack, to smear Wilson and call Rove a hero. The purpose is solely to distract, mislead and divert.
"Republicans should stop holding back and go on the offense: fire enough bullets the other way until the Supreme Court overtakes" events, said Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.).Which has resulted in:
"It's disappointing that once again, so many Democrat leaders are taking their political cues from the far-left, Moveon wing of the party. The bottom line is Karl Rove was discouraging a reporter from writing a false story based on a false premise and the Democrats are engaging in blatant partisan political attacks." -RNC Chairman Ken MehlmanThis was followed by a page of smears on Joe Wilson, already endlessly repeated throughout the Right's Noise Machine. (See the actual talking points here.)
Was there ever a more obvious time for learning to see the forest? Don't react to this. Don't get distracted. Don't go on the defense. Don't spend hours explaining how Wilson was the hero, not Rove. Use this as a lab experiment in watching the Right's Noise Machine at work. Use this as a window into their tactics and strategies!
Just keep pounding on Rove, what he did, and why this is important. Rove outed a covert CIA agent working on keeping WMD out of the hands of terrorists. This "rolled up" her network of contacts, possibly getting some killed. And by exposing her he exposed her cover company, possibly causing damage to other agents and networks as well.
Rove did this at a time of war against terrorists. His act exposed all of us to increased danger of attack by those WMDs she was trying to keep away from terrorists.
July 12, 2005
We often find ourselves arguing over the things right-wingers say. That is a distraction. We should instead learn to focus on what they do. One form of this is the STF Rule, when right-wingers accuse it usually means that is what they are themselves doing. Say vs. do.
It happens over and over and over. They throw a bunch of smoke in the air and we chase it instead of keeping our eye on what is really going on. It's like the Peanuts cartoon, where every year Charlie Brown runs up to kick the football, and just before he gets there Lucy snatches the ball away and he flies in the air and lands on his head.
In a recent NY Times piece, So Who Are the Activists? the authors applied actual data (reality, or the doing) to test the right-wing accusatory phrase "judicial activists" (the words).
Here is the question we asked: How often has each justice voted to strike down a law passed by Congress?The Seeing the Forest Rule -- they are accusing "liberal judges" of being "activist judges" and it turns out that it is the right-wing judges who are the activists! I am so very surprised!
[. . .] We found that justices vary widely in their inclination to strike down Congressional laws. Justice Clarence Thomas, appointed by President George H. W. Bush, was the most inclined, voting to invalidate 65.63 percent of those laws; Justice Stephen Breyer, appointed by President Bill Clinton, was the least, voting to invalidate 28.13 percent. The tally for all the justices appears below.
Thomas 65.63 %
Kennedy 64.06 %
Scalia 56.25 %
Rehnquist 46.88 %
O’Connor 46.77 %
Souter 42.19 %
Stevens 39.34 %
Ginsburg 39.06 %
Breyer 28.13 %
One conclusion our data suggests is that those justices often considered more "liberal" - Justices Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Souter and John Paul Stevens - vote least frequently to overturn Congressional statutes, while those often labeled "conservative" vote more frequently to do so.
So here is how it works. The right-wingers hold focus groups and ask, "if we told you so-and-so, would you believe such-and-such?" And then they go out and spread the so-and-so, whatever it is, in their effort to persuade people to believe such-and-such. They find out that people don't like "activist judges," or at least react negatively to the phrase, and know that they are going to be appointing judges who are activist, so they repeat that Liberals appoint activist judges in order to get that fixed in the public's mind.
And they follow a strategy of first getting people to believe one thing, and then building on that by adding new elements that depend on the belief they previously established. This is a strategic narrative. It unfolds into a story. "Liberal activist judges" is part of an unfolding narrative of "liberals' meddling with people's daily lives. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the truth, but it is useful for persuading people to support right-wingers.
Have a visit at Coleen Rowley for U.S. Congress and drop a few bucks.
Colleen Rowley's name is familiar because she is the "FBI Whistleblower," who wrote the famous memo describing how the FBI leadership and others ignored warnings and bungled the chance to catch the 9/11 terrorists -- and then tried to cover that up. Follow the link to learn more about that.
Now she's running for Congress in Minnesota's 2nd Congressional District, against one of the Bush/DeLay team's hard core members. If you live in the area be sure to sign up to volunteer. And if you live anywhere, you can, as I said, throw her a few bucks.
From the Republican Party website, RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman Statement On The Partisan Attack On Karl Rove:
"It's disappointing that once again, so many Democrat leaders are taking their political cues from the far-left, Moveon wing of the party. The bottom line is Karl Rove was discouraging a reporter from writing a false story based on a false premise and the Democrats are engaging in blatant partisan political attacks." -RNC Chairman Ken MehlmanWhat's the STF Rule? When Republicans accuse it usually means they're doing whatever it is they are accusing others of. Here they are accusing the other party of being in the hands of political extremists.
And, by the way, this is Dean's counterpart saying stuff like this about the opposition. Where is the outrage?
Finally, look at the rest of the stuff on the page - attacks on Joe Wilson!
The Blogometer is a daily report from The Hotline taking the temperature of the political blogosphere.
Bush's version of "honor and integrity":
Press Briefing by Scott McClellan, September 29, 2003:
"If anyone in this administration was involved in it, they would no longer be in this administration."President Bush, February 10, 2004:
"If there's a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is," Bush told reporters at an impromptu news conference during a fund-raising stop in Chicago, Illinois. "If the person has violated law, that person will be taken care of."President Bush, June 10, 2004:
Q And, and, do you stand by your pledge to fire anyone found to have done so? ["leaked the agent's name"]Update - Robert Parry:
THE PRESIDENT: Yes.
In the Iran-Contra Affair, for instance, Ronald Reagan fired aides Oliver North and John Poindexter on Nov. 25, 1986, the day the scandal was revealed, rather than wait for the conclusion of a criminal probe.Actually, as far as I know Bush has not taken disciplinary action against anyone in his administration for anything, period. NO accountability whatsoever. Impunity. Total and absolute corruption.
On April 30, 1973, as the Watergate scandal was unfolding, Richard Nixon ousted chief of staff H.R. Haldeman, domestic policy chief John Ehrlichman and White House counsel John Dean. Nixon famously promised "no whitewash at the White House.
By contrast, George W. Bush has taken no known disciplinary action against anyone for letting the identity of a covert CIA officer leak out."
From The War's Realists:
Appearing on "Fox News Sunday," Fran Townsend, the president's homeland security adviser, said that the war in Iraq attracts terrorists "where we have a fighting military and a coalition that can take them on and not have the sort of civilian casualties that you saw in London."There is only one way the number of casualties in London is fewer than those in Iraq and that is if you don't consider Iraqi civilians to be people.
I just watched the trailer for the "Last Best Chance" video advertised on the right. Wow. Actually, they'll send you the DVD.
July 11, 2005
Friday will be the third anniversary of Seeing the Forest.
The 800,000th visitor will be tonite or tomorrow. Click to see if it's you. (Leave a comment if it is you.)
Will Democrats explain this to the public?
I don't understand the sympathy for Judith Miller at all. Jay Rosen puts the whole controversy into perspective and context over at Press Think, and reaches a conclusion that is long overdue. Time for Robert Novak to Feel Some Chill
I, for one, have had it with Robert Novak. And if all the journalists who are talking today about "chilling effects" and individual conscience mean what they say, they will, as a matter of conscience and pride, start giving Novak himself the big chill.
Jay has a very comprehensive and insightful analysis of the core issues.
On the right is a blog ad for a petition demanding an audit of the money that has disappeared in Iraq.
You might have read about billions - yes, billions - of dollars missing, with stories of cash being distributed in duffel bags. No one knows where it went. (I have suspicions.) If you care, click the ad. (More here, here.)
Update - Well, clicking the ad now takes you to a page for a petition asking Bush to fire Rove. Click it for that.)
Tonight is the first part of a three part PBS series on Guns, Germs and Steel.
Guns, Germs, and Steel is an artful, informative, and delightful book, full of surprises… there is nothing like a radically new angle of vision for bringing out unsuspected dimensions of a subject, and that is what Jared Diamond has done.” – William H. McNeill, The New York Review of Books
“Diamond has written a book of remarkable scope . . . one of the most important and readable works on the human past published in recent years."— Colin Renfrew, Nature
"The scope and explanatory power of this book are astounding."— The New Yorker
The items below are an extract from the latest article in Jay Shaft's series on the growth of hunger, poverty and homelessness in America, Concrete Is Cold And Hard At Night: The Children’s Voices.
Homeless families are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population and account for almost 40 percent of all newly reported cases of homelessness. Homeless children are hungry more than twice as often as other children, and two-thirds worry that they won’t have enough to eat. Nationally, one in four people in a soup kitchen line is a child. In 2003 60 percent of all newly reported cases of homeless were single mothers with children. (National Coalition for the Homeless, America’s Second Harvest)
For most of the 1990’s the number of children in poverty was declining. Then between 2000 and 2002, there were an additional 546,000 children who slipped into poverty. In 2003 at least 500,000 more children plummeted into poverty, and additional 300,000-400,000 children were listed as being at the borderline of poverty. In 2004 it is estimated that 550,000-600,000 children slipped into poverty, and at least 400,000-500,000 more were at the boarderline.
That's 1.5 million more children in poverty than when George W. Bush, Jr. took office. Message: Democrats pull children out of poverty, Republicans put them into it.
Here's a quote from one of the children Jay interviewed, Sara (a 12 year old who has been homeless for a year):
When asked if she has gone hungry she just got an exasperated look, like it was the stupidest question she had ever heard.
“Duh! What do you think?” she asks with some irritation. “I am hungry all the time, even when there is enough food. I am afraid to eat till I’m really full because we might run out of food if we’re little pigs. I ate as much as I could on Thanksgiving but that was the only time this year I’ve been really full. I ate six pieces of pie and had three plates of turkey. I wish we had that much food all the time.”
“I stopped believing in Santa a long time ago, but I wish he was real. I all want is to be able to sleep in my own bed and have mom cook our favorite foods,” she says with a wistful expression. “I want to eat until I explode, then I’d eat more. I want my family to be safe and warm in a house, that’s my Christmas wish. I don’t want anything else, just that.”
I can't read this without feeling an overwhelming sense of outrage, sadness, and anger. No child should be put through this.
You want message? You want frameworks? You want talking points? Here you go: the Republicans/right-wing can't win if Sara's needs are put front and center in the discussion, and the Democrats/progressives can't win until they do. Period. End of story.
I want to see Sara's concerns at the top of the Democratic Party's agenda, I want to see Sara's image on election posters everywhere, I want to hear Sara's voice on every radio, and her plight be the subject of an unending barrage of commercials that pin her hunger directly on the cruelty and indifference of the Republican Party and the right-wing ideologues that dominate it.
Politics, everything we discuss on this and other blogs, boils down to putting food in Sara's mouth, and giving her the physical and mental security she needs to do well in a properly funded public school, so that she has the best possible chance to become a productive, contributing member of society. The right-wing doesn't have an answer for this, we do. That's the message we need to be pounding home, every day, that's the message we need to be blogswarming, and shoving to the top of the American media and political establishment's agenda.
The entire appeal, which arrived in my inbox this morning, is enclosed below for reference, but I'm just going to highlight the portion relevant to my commentary...
Kerry opens thusly:
Let's make our principles crystal clear right out of the box.
We will never support a Supreme Court nominee intent on reversing Roe v. Wade and undoing critical civil rights protections
Later on, he says:
From the range of choices the White House is currently considering, America and the Constitution would be best served if President Bush chooses a nominee in the mold of Sandra Day O'Connor, who was named to the Court by no less of a conservative than Ronald Reagan and approved unanimously by the United States Senate.
But President Bush's most extreme supporters are demanding a nominee who doesn't think or act anything like Justice O'Connor. They want a rigid ideologue who will reverse what President Bush has called the "settled law" of Roe v. Wade, one who will support their efforts to use the Supreme Court as a battering ram to undo decades of progress on civil rights, Roe v. Wade, and privacy. [Bolding mine, TL]
What's missing here?
In a word: economics. Meat and potatoes (apologies to vegetarians like myself). The entire issue of what the scope and function of government's intervention in the private sector/free market should be. Listen for discussion on these issues, and all you hear is a vast, echoing silence.
The agenda Kerry outlines is the narrow one of the religious right... but the ambitions of the Federalist Society and the neo-conservative ultra right, the conservative think tanks and the foundations that fund them, the "movement" right, are far, far broader. They want to wipe out any and all government functions, services and activities that they perceived as interfering with the operation of the private sector/free market and "restore" the government to some panceanic pre-Rooseveltian utopia.
It is totally possible that the Bush Administration and the Democrats will wind up "compromising" on someone whose position on the issues Kerry mentions is "moderate", but who is a a flaming Borkian ultra right wing ideologue on everything else. This is not acceptable!
Kerry's appeal demonstrates everything that is wrong with the Democratic Party - they've conceded the field on the fundamental issues of redistributive economics, government intervention in the economy, and private sector regulation... and why is this?
I'll tell you why: because the Democratic and Republican Party are, in essence, two sides of the same free market coin. The intellectual underpinnings of the average elected Democrat's ideological perspective*, share, at a fundamental level, the same set of assumptions that underpin the arguments put forth by their right wing opponents. Their disagreements with their Republican opponents are a matter of degree, not kind.
* (Kucinich and a few renegade progressives aside)
Here's why Kerry's appeal is so flawed:
Most women want to reserve the right to have an abortion, if the circumstances demand it... but most women would also much prefer to not have to make that decision. They'd prefer to have the ability to choose to have the kid... but to make that decision, they need not just a social safety net, but the social infrastructure in place to make raising a kid and earning a living feasible: daycare facilities (subsidized, in most cases), affordable healthcare (for their kids, AND them) that is free if they can't pay, functional public transportation, good jobs, a strong economy, a strong and effective public education system, the ability to save for retirement (pensions, social security, hell... just not having to spend every penny earned to survive). The list goes on and on and on.
The same thing goes for minorities protected by civil rights - queer, African-American, Latino... protection from job discrimination doesn't do you a damn bit of good if there are no jobs, or the jobs don't pay enough to support you and a family (however defined).
Let's talk turkey: minimum wage, EPA, OSHA/workplace safety, financial regulation and reporting, Pension Guaranty Benefit fund, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, HUD, environmental protections/regulations/endangered species, election finance regulation and reporting requirements, campaign finance limits, on and on and on... all these, the ultra-right would like to see wiped out. On all of these, at best, the Democrats are in a defensive posture, and incapable of articulating an effective argument for anything but preservation of the status quo. The best defense is a good offense, and the Democrats don't have one... and refuse to make the draft picks necessary to build one.
This is why I'm a member of the Green Party of the United States. Until the Democratic Party, as a whole, and through their Presidential nominee, put forth a strong and convincing argument that articulates a vision for society that I agree with, they won't earn my vote or my loyalty.
Entire appeal, enclosed for reference
Let's make our principles crystal clear right out of the box.
We will never support a Supreme Court nominee intent on reversing Roe v. Wade and undoing critical civil rights protections. And we will never accept a double standard that says, on a decision vital to America's future, President Bush's most extreme supporters can campaign all-out while you and I are urged to be silent.
I am asking you to endorse and help pay for a powerful message that will appear in the days ahead in newspapers across the country. Show the President and the Senate just how strongly you feel about protecting our fundamental freedoms:
[Add referred to is located at http://savethecourt.johnkerry.com/ ]
From the range of choices the White House is currently considering, America and the Constitution would be best served if President Bush chooses a nominee in the mold of Sandra Day O'Connor, who was named to the Court by no less of a conservative than Ronald Reagan and approved unanimously by the United States Senate.
But President Bush's most extreme supporters are demanding a nominee who doesn't think or act anything like Justice O'Connor. They want a rigid ideologue who will reverse what President Bush has called the "settled law" of Roe v. Wade, one who will support their efforts to use the Supreme Court as a battering ram to undo decades of progress on civil rights, Roe v. Wade, and privacy.
They want something else as well.
They want you and me to participate in this momentous debate about fundamental freedoms with one hand tied behind our back. They actually expect us to step aside while they roll over our rights. Let's prove that we will never let that happen.
While they unleash a multi-million dollar advertising campaign on behalf of President Bush's choice in close coordination with the White House, you and I are supposed to remain silent -- lest we be charged with "rushing to judgment."
While they conduct a no-holds-barred effort to brush aside any and all questions about the nominee's record and his or her commitment to protecting individual freedom, you and I are supposed to be silenced for fear of being called "obstructionists" and cowered by their threat to revive the "nuclear option."
That's worse than unacceptable. It's un-American, and it's not how we carry on public debate in the greatest democracy on earth. Show them that, with the future of the Supreme Court on the line, we won't stand on the sidelines:
I know I can count on your support in making the following commitment: I will insist on a complete and full examination of the record of President Bush's nominee. And, if that nominee is intent on reversing Roe v. Wade and essential Supreme Court protections for civil rights, I will use every option I have as a United States Senator to keep that nominee off the Court.
P.S. Don't let them silence our voices. Go out in your community and spread the word along to everyone you know by passing on this message. We must all commit ourselves to standing up for Roe V. Wade and our civil rights.
Sorry. I'm working on it. I THINK I have the TypeKey registration system working now (no thanks to VERY LITTLE help from SixApart unhelpful support! I am not sure I can recommend Movable Type anymore.) So now you can register with TypeKey, and comments are set to show up automatically if you come from that system (and on other blogs that use that system). I THINK I still have to approve other commenters. Once you are approved you can post from then on.
I just spent a lot of time deleting over 250 comment spams that were waiting in theapproval queue since last night.
I still have to figure out if there is a way to block trackback spam.
And that's what his friends say about him. From Steve Chapman's editorial in the Baltimore Sun, President Needs To Show His Nerve:
Anti-abortion groups have every reason to insist that Mr. Bush finally do something major for their cause. They helped propel him to the nomination in 2000, but until now, they've gotten meager returns.
On this issue, Mr. Bush is a master of prudent evasion. He can rarely bring himself to utter the word "abortion," preferring that soft-focus term "the culture of life."
Is there any issue that Bush is not a master of prudent evasion on? I'm still trying to figure out why Democrats haven't followed Harry Reid's lead in his Rolling Stone interview and just started calling Bush a lying sack of crap.
July 10, 2005
It appears that some conservatives (reactionaries? dumbservatives?) think that violence is the solution to all problems. The more extreme, the better. This is fundamentally different worldview from that held by us liberal followers of the Enlightenment, who feel that reason and logic should prevail in human affairs.
But what could we do anyway? We could keep playing the capitalist odds hoping it is our neighbors who get killed next or, very simply, we could demand that the enemy surrender. We could simply announce to the Muslim world ( 52% of Muslims in London were not willing to condemn the 9/11 bombings and no Imam (except one) has issued a fatwa against OBL for 9/11) that their support for OBL and his ideology has earned them the following ultimatum: change your ways and turn over OBL in one month or there will be a crater one mile wide round outside of Medina; in another month, if he has not been turned over, there will be another crater inside Medina with Gumbad-e-Khizra being precisely at the center of it. If at that point you still feel divinely inspired to follow OBL toward some 15th Century mad dog Caliphate we will eliminate Mecca one terrorizing month or so later, at which point you can pray 5 times a day in the direction of the Pakistan/Afghanistan border where your great savior OBL is living like a diseased and slimy rat in a dark dank hole.
Don't ask me why he thinks that apprehending Osama Bin Ladin will single-handedly stop Al Quaeda or religiously motivated Arab or Muslim fundamentalist terrorism...
If you think he's just one lone nut, let me present you with Michael Savage (host of the nation's fifth most listened to radio talk show) - who goes one step beyond this suggestion, and advocates that we pre-emptively nuke every Arab capitol as a means of cowing the terrorists into submission (I guess)... a suggestion he made several years ago, in fact.
Now, I won't speak for others, but I don't particularly want to deal with the fallout that would result from our taking the course of action this guy outlines... it is hard to think of a more effective means of inducing global social and economic catastrophe/collapse than nuking Medina and Mecca (hell, than even threatening to do so). If you think the Muslim world is stirred up now, wait until George Bush opens his mouth to make such a statement... I sure as hell wouldn't want to be an American abroad at that point - let alone a soldier serving in Iraq!
Some of you may have noticed that this blog is under a comment and trackback spam attack lately. I'm deleting the spams as fast as I can.
I have turned on a requirement that people leaving comments must first register and be approved. Sorry. I have to do this to keep the spam out of the comments. I'll turn it back off in a few days.
I'm still trying to figure out how to fight the trackback spam.
Update - OK, OK, I relent. The comment registration isn't working and I'll turn it back on.
Brad Lily at the Center for American Progress
The Angry Bear helps explain with charts, James Hamilton on the Decline in the Employment-Population Ratio
From Brad DeLong The Big Picture: Drilling beneath the BLS Headlines :
Among other things:
Household survey shows another 240,000 people left the Labor Force last month.... We still see unemployment going down because more people are dropping out of the labor than obtaining new jobs. That's hardly cause for celebration.
Republican voters are such easy marks for the con men who run the Party.
A brutal and accurate Think Piece from The Black Commentator (the best graphics on the web).
Only a society accustomed to war-and predisposed to the use of war and violence-would accept war so quickly.
War and Imperial expansion have been the "central engine" of American economic, social and cultural development.
As a peace-loving people, "it is an article of faith that their wars have been forced upon them by those who would destroy their freedom," and thus, "Americans tend to believe that by winning wars, they made the world a better, safer, freer place."
Help Skippy the Bush Kangaroo get a million hits.
His defense so far seems to be that he didn’t say her name, just “Wilson’s wife,” and didn’t know that she was undercover, just that she was CIA. . . . How much more of this shit are the American people going to swallow before they demand that the entire lot of criminals running the joint are roughly escorted out the fucking door?
Think about the real meaning of the word "traitor." To further their own political agenda, a group of people betrayed an undercover CIA agent who was working to stop terrorists from obtaining weapons of mass destruction. They sacrificed our national security, endangering all of us. (And that agenda was to start a war that did not need to be started, at a time when we were already engaged in a war against those who attacked our country.)
July 9, 2005
... I thought y'all would be amused by this hysterically funny take on the British government's proposal to establish a national ID card.
From Project Censored, The media can legally lie. This is an absolutely mind numbing decision. How do you find out who appointed this judge?:
In February 2003, a Florida Court of Appeals unanimously agreed with an assertion by FOX News that there is no rule against distorting or falsifying the news in the United States.
That certainly puts the M$M and the First Amendment in a whole new light, doesn't it?
A husband and wife journalist team was working on a story about bovine growth hormone (BGH) which is manufactured by Monsanto. Monsanto wanted a fair and balanced story:
According to Akre and Wilson, the station was initially very excited about the series. But within a week, Fox executives and their attorneys wanted the reporters to use statements from Monsanto representatives that the reporters knew were false and to make other revisions to the story that were in direct conflict with the facts. Fox editors then tried to force Akre and Wilson to continue to produce the distorted story. When they refused and threatened to report Fox's actions to the FCC, they were both fired.(Project Censored #12 1997)
A Florida appellate judge disagreed with the trial court who ruled for Akre and Wilson:
FOX appealed the case, and on February 14, 2003 the Florida Second District Court of Appeals unanimously overturned the settlement awarded to Akre. The Court held that Akre's threat to report the station's actions to the FCC did not deserve protection under Florida's whistle blower statute, because Florida's whistle blower law states that an employer must violate an adopted "law, rule, or regulation." In a stunningly narrow interpretation of FCC rules, the Florida Appeals court claimed that the FCC policy against falsification of the news does not rise to the level of a "law, rule, or regulation," it was simply a "policy." Therefore, it is up to the station whether or not it wants to report honestly.
Interesting. If an FCC policy is not a "law, rule or regulation," I wonder what Monsanto's favorite Florida judge classifies it as?
The M$M filed an amicae curiae brief:
What is more appalling are the five major media outlets that filed briefs of Amici Curiae- or friend of FOX - to support FOX's position: Belo Corporation, Cox Television, Inc., Gannett Co., Inc., Media General Operations, Inc., and Post-Newsweek Stations, Inc. These are major media players! Their statement, "The station argued that it simply wanted to ensure that a news story about a scientific controversy regarding a commercial product was present with fairness and balance, and to ensure that it had a sound defense to any potential defamation claim."
Truth is a sound defense to defamation. There is no legal requirement to present false statements from the company that is the subject of a story.
How could any court expect the M$M to obey the law in all 40 states with whistleblower statutes?
The Amici position was "If upheld by this court, the decision would convert personnel actions arising from disagreements over editorial policy into litigation battles in which state courts would interpret and apply federal policies that raise significant and delicate constitutional and statutory issues." After all, Amici argued, 40 states now have Whistleblower laws, imagine what would happen if employees in those 40 states followed the same course of action?
Imagine the result if journalists in all 40 states insisted on only reporting the truth. What kind of jounalism nightmare would that be?
This decision comes real close to saying that obeying state laws is a violation of the First Amendment:
The position implies that First Amendment rights belong to the employers - in this case the five power media groups. And when convenient, the First Amendment becomes a broad shield to hide behind. Let's not forget, however; the airwaves belong to the people. Is there no public interest left--while these media giants make their private fortunes using the public airwaves? Can corporations have the power to influence the media reporting, even at the expense of the truth? Apparently so.
The Supreme Court has been clear that corporations have broad latitude to lie to the public in advertising. This decision claims the First Amendment protects the right of corporations to lie to the public and call it news. It also gives the M$M the right to order their employees to lie to the public and if they refused they can be fired for cause.
O'Reilly and Hannity lie with such passion and conviction that that they don't require coercion to lie to the public. I wonder if this decision explains some of the recent conduct of Matthews and Russert?
Or maybe Matthews and Russert have accepted their journalism duty to lie to the public. After all, it's what they get paid for.
The simple truth is that the M$M is only part of the problem. How is it possible that with DeLay, Cunningham and Abramhoff all up to their eyeballs in blatant corruption, not a single Democrat, in either the House or the Senate, has seen fit to file a complaint?
From David Sirota's online Magazine, Sirotablog, Why America Needs Less Mindless Conformity:
Think about it for a second. If you are in Washington, D.C.'s Republican/Democratic Establishment circles, it is considered nothing short of disgusting or fringe to think we should, for instance, set an exit strategy in Iraq, or renegotiate the corporate-written "free" trade deals that are wreaking so much havoc on our middle class.
If you are in business, you are considered weird for keeping in mind anything other than the bottom line, no matter what laws and ethics you have to break.
If you are in media, you are considered a freak if you suggest reporting on serious issues instead of Michael Jackson, if you suggest putting on air anyone other than the same tired, old, out-of-touch Beltway pundits who regurgitate the same idiotic talking points.
That's an excellent capsulation of the Elite Corporate Consensus. The M$M and both political parties are dominated by a corporate mindless conformity that makes Big Brother proud. O'Reilly is just more brazen about his obsequious surrender to mindless pablum for the masses than Matthews and Russert. They all drink from the same cup of M$M conformity.
. But as San Francisco Chronicle columnist Mark Morford tells us, conformity is exactly what the powers that be want - and is exactly what we shouldn't give them.
Money quote from Morford on the Conformity Consensus:
And truly, this mind-set is the national plague, a fate worse than death.
How did this guy get hired? Somebody at the S.F. Chronicle forgot to drink the Corporate Consensus Kool-Aid:
Work hard and the world respects you. Work hard and you can have anything you want. Work really extra super hard and do nothing else but work and ignore your family and spend 14 hours a day at the office and make 300 grand a year that you never have time to spend, sublimate your soul to the corporate machine and enjoy a profound drinking problem and sporadic impotence and a nice 8BR mini-mansion you never spend any time in, and you and your shiny BMW 740i will get into heaven.That sounds exactly like what my company wants me to do for $40 grand a year, an apartment and a shiny new Hyundai.
This is the American Puritan work ethos, still alive and screaming and sucking the world dry. Work is the answer. Work is also the question. Work is the one thing really worth doing and if you're not working you're either a slacker or a leech, unless you're a victim of BushCo's budget-reamed America and you've been laid off, and therefore it's OK because that means you're out there every day pounding the pavement looking for work and honing your resume and if you're not, well, what the hell is wrong with you?
Back in the day they said you are what you eat. Today you are what you do for a living.
Our culture allows almost no room for creative breaks. There is little tolerance for seeking out a different kind of "work" that doesn't somehow involve cubicles and widening butts and sour middle managers monitoring your e-mail and checking your Web site logs to see if you've wasted a precious 37 seconds of company time browsing blowfish.com or reading up on the gay marriage apocalypse.
This is where Morford works in his money quote:
And truly, this mind-set is the national plague, a fate worse than death.
One of the primary chains to identical office cubicles inside identical concrete cubicles is health insurance:
Giving up her respectable gig was insanely stressful and wracked with doubt. Leave a honest job? Give up paid health care? Have no reliable source of income for months on end? Trade calm stability for risk and random chance? No way, most people say. And of course, it was the absolute best choice she could've made. Time instantly became more fluid and meaningful. Mental clutter vanished. Possibility grinned.
America is not a Christian nation. Our true religion is Consumerism, which American Puritanism has absorbed and regurgitates from pulpits and televangelist broadcasts every day of the week and twice on Sunday as The Prosperity Gospel. In America even religion is big business. God is your CEO and Greenspan is Pope. He demands slavish sacrifices at the corporate alter. Or does He?
But the truth is, God, the divine true spirit loves nothing more than to see you unhinge and take risk and invite regular, messy, dangerous upheaval. This is exactly the energy that thwarts the demons of stagnation and conservative rot and violent sanctimonious bloody Mel Gibson-y religion, one that would have all our work be aimed at continuously patching up our incessant potholes of ugly congenital guilt, as opposed to contributing to the ongoing orgiastic evolution of spirit.
I've heard a rumor that Jesus is coming back and he's really pissed off at the money changers worshipping Mammon in Mega Churches. How can we help Him turn the tables on the money changers in the temple?
It is not for everyone. It implies incredibly difficult choices and arranging your life in certain ways and giving up certain luxuries and many, many people seemed locked down and immovable and all done with exploring new options in life, far too deeply entrenched in debts and family obligations and work to ever see such unique light again. Maybe you know such people. Maybe you are such people.
But then again, maybe not. This is the other huge truism we so easily forget: There is always room. There are always choices we can begin to make, changes we can begin to invite, rules we can work to upset, angles of penetration we can try to explore. And if that's not worth trying, well, what is?
Where would Jesus work?
Stirling Newberry at BOP News takes the next step with The Market Place of Idiots, that features first Bilmon:
Billmon burns the Aspen Institute. I'm a long time non-fan of the Aspen institute, which often seems to be about wrapping the brown stuff the Republicans sell in green paper. The energy policy coming from there is so bad, that I think I could make a case that one would do better just converting the bullshit that comes out of the Institute into biodiesel.Media consensus annointed journalist pundits brown nosing and hobbing the nob with corporate appointed intellectual pundits to define and proscribe "new ideas" while they exchange bodily fluids. I think I understand why Michael Kinsley, Newt Gingrich and Thomas Friedman are considered deep thinkers by the D.C. consensus.
Newberry follows up with Alterman:
The reality is that these conferences aren't about ideas. Ideas often are developed in intense isolation, they are about teaching powerful people to manage change, which often means co-opt or kill it. They are, in effect, giant Groupthink Gropes about what the next stampede of ordinary people is going to be about. What the next panic button issue or story is going to be, and how to calm the heard and sell praerie patties to buffalo.
Alterman once again deconstructs the myth of a liberal media, that curiously adopts an instinctive conservative D.C. consensus on virtually every issue, in spite of factual evidence to the contrary:
A Pew Research Center for People and Policy poll conducted in May 2005 throws this misperception into high relief, confirming a trend that has remained unchanged for decades. If the media were genuinely interested in accurately portraying the values of ordinary Americans, some of these numbers might receive some coverage. The poll shows that on most of the most important social issues facing Americans today, the public mind is much further to the left than it is the right.Rose colored blinders are required to imagine that the M$M lives up to a journalism standard of reporting the truth:
So has the country moved to the right during recent decades? Well, perhaps it has, on certain issues, but nowhere near as much as the media would have us believe. At a time when Congress, the Executive Branch (and soon the Supreme Court), the opinion media, talk radio and the like are all singing from the same conservative hymnal, it's almost a miracle that Americans have retained their progressive values. But they have, and it's about time the media woke up and dealt with it.
Crooks and Liars steered me to Duncan Black's smackdown of journalism standards, Journalism 101:
If the responsible media wants to elevate and professionalize journalism to a greater extent, I'm all for it. However, if they want to do so they'd be a lot more productive training their guns on the Limbaughs and O'Reilly's and numerous syndicated columnists etc... etc... than on "citizen journalists" or bloggers or whatever. To America, Bill O'Reilly is a journalist.
The line between journalism/commentary/opinion/analysis/propagandist/hack was completely blurred by the mainstream media itself long before bloggers came along.
I'll credit CJR for trying to hold the line and pretend there is still a semblance of journalism standards, but from my perspective whatever standards do exist are practiced primarily in the breach.
Crooks and liars also picks up on Andrew Sullivan's smackdown of the latest Instapundit endorsement of the suggestion that the media could end the GWOT without firing a shot by just not covering terrrorist acts. If the media ignored them, terrorists would simply go away:
" But the notion that we should somehow not cover mass murder, or that it's equivalent to misbehavior at sporting events, or that the only reason for covering it is "ratings/profits" is nutty.....We need to see the atrocities these fanatics commit, however appalling, however vile. The job of the media, even in wartime, is to relay facts, not to skew coverage for purposes of morale.
Is "relaying facts" one of the standards that journalists are supposed to have? I guess that explains the massive media coverage of the Downing Street Memo. Was media darling Judith Miller relaying facts when she helped the White House hype WMD stories? Is Judith Miller in jail for relaying facts or covering up a White House scandal?
Ignoring real news and terrorism is already an M$M journalism standard. The vast majority of the 675 terrorists acts committed last year were studiously ignored by the MSM. Faux News and the MSM both give more coverage to runaway white girls and celebrity trials and tributions than they do to terrorists. They also provide more in depth coverage of Hollywood than they do of Baghdad.
The practice of journalism standards in the breach has been on prominant display by the failure of the M$M to cover the Downing Street Memo, Black Box Vote Fraud and Republican corruption. Glenn Reynolds just wants the M$M to take their current standards one step farther.
July 8, 2005
The author is hardly a household name, but a tiny few may remember him as the self described reporter with the Columbia Journalism Review who accused Markos of a breach of ethics for reporting the results of exit polls in the 2004 election before the polls closed.
The author was a fool then and he's a fool now. His latest offering at Salon is Beware of the "Halli-bloggers"!: If bloggers get the same press freedoms as traditional media, what will prevent corporations like Halliburton from using blogs to pour unregulated money into politics? (watch 30 second ad for day pass)
Dude's article isn't worth wasting 30 seconds of your time, but you can also get up to date on the latest Tom Tomorrow cartoons, including a great new Sensible Liberal cartoon, Circular Logic.
The only interesting and relevant part of the whole article was the explanation for why Dave started calling Seeing the Forest a Web Magazine a short time ago. Dude quotes an anonymous blogger at The Talent Show (since the author didn't identify the blogger at The Talent Show, I went back and removed any mention of the author's name so he could remain anonymous as well. It's petty I know. But I decided the author is petty, so I yielded to my baser nature):
Starting either late today or tomorrow, I will relaunch (without any fanfare whatsoever) my new web magazine, The Talent Show ... The look of the site, the writing style, the subject matter, the content, and the technological back end will be identical to what I'm using now, but the change (as least as far as the FEC is concerned) will be drastic." Atrios quickly picked up the theme: His site now bears a prominent -- and semi-mocking -- tagline, identifying it as "An Online Magazine of News, Commentary, and Editorial."It was a slightly curious change, but it wasn't remarkable enough to tweak my curiosity.
The author postulates the slippery slope threat of corporate blogs to campaign finance reform laws from inundating the blogosphere with slick commercials. Here's my last quote from the article:
But the example that was given in the hearing, of the Halliburton blog, I mean, who's gonna read that?"
What on earth does Halliburton have to say that is going to be compelling? How is Halliburton going to attract anyone? A cash kickback with every visit? What can Halliburton do or say on the internet that wasn't done and said by right wingnut bloggers during the last election?
At the end of the day regulating bloggers is based on chicken little fears that the sky is falling. Bob Brigham at Swing State Project responded to this tom foolery last month. Kos called it IPDI nonsense. Chris Bowers at MyDD called the FEC's play in February, Congress Moves To Destroy Netroots.
Why on earth is Salon wasting bandwidth on this fool and recycling his nonsense? Are they trying to go mainstream?
Microsoft has just proven they are serious about tracking down hackers. Microsoft rewards Sasser worm informants:
Microsoft will pay a combined $US250,000 ($NZ375,601) to two people who helped track down the author of the Sasser internet worm, which infected computers around the globe, the world's largest software maker said on Friday.
I wish I knew who some of the hackers Microsoft is looking for were.
The two individuals, who were not identified, will share the reward, which Microsoft established with Interpol, the FBI and the US Secret Service.
Microsoft, based in Redmond, Washington, has been trying to make its software more secure and reliable, and has also vowed to go after hackers and others who create worms and malicious software viruses by offering bounties and also suing them in court.
The best short statement abouut the Supreme Court vacancy(ies) came to me from People For the American Way, "Tell the President: Pick a Judge, Not a Fight!"
That was in an e-mail and I can't find a web page there with that line, but I'll send people to PFAW anytime, anyway. So go visit PFAW.
Repeat after me: "Tell the President: Pick a Judge, Not a Fight!"
Doings over at Daily Kos: Daily Kos: The conspiracists
Today I did something I've never done before (not even during the Fraudster mess), and wish I'd never had to do.I respectfully request that people here at Seeing the Forest refrain from talk about Jews being behind the bombings, if you please. Right wing fascists ... you can comment. Myself, I doubt it.
I made a mass banning of people perpetuating a series of bizarre, off-the-wall, unsupported and frankly embarassing conspiracy theories.
I have a high tolerance level for material I deem appropriate for this site, but one thing I REFUSE to allow is bullshit conspiracy theories. You know the ones -- Bush and Blair conspired to bomb London in order to take the heat off their respective political problems. I can't imagine what fucking world these people live in, but it sure ain't the Reality Based Community.
So I banned these people, and those that have been recommending diaries like it. And I will continue to do so until the purge is complete, and make no mistake -- this is a purge.
This is a reality-based community. Those who wish to live outside it should find a new home. This isn't it.
Update - I'm not saying I'll ban anyone, I was just saying please refrain from blaming Jews. I've been hearing that and getting e-mails and didn't want to see it here. I think that stuff is coming from Nazi types or even maybe Islamist fascist propaganda. I was going to post something asking people not to leave comments saying the Jews did it when I saw Kos's post and decided to use that to say it.
July 7, 2005
Hat tip to KPFK radio for their interview with Rahul Mahajan this morning, who blogs infrequently at Empire Notes.
The San Jose Mercury News has reported that Sen. Joe Dunn (D) has charged that a federal probe into domestic spying charges against the California National guard is being used to block his own inquiry:
One day after being denied access to a Guard computer that had its hard drive wiped clean, Sen. Joe Dunn said he would seek legislative subpoenas today to gain access to the information central to his investigation and lashed out at military officials standing in his way.
Dunn launched his investigation last week after the Mercury News reported on the creation of a new National Guard intelligence unit that has been given ``broad authority'' to set up new anti-terrorism projects in California.
``If they continue in what I refer to as bunker mentality here, it simply confirms to us that our worst suspicions may in fact be true,'' the Garden Grove Democrat said.
But Guard officials said they plan to voluntarily comply with the senator's request.
The original story by Don Nissenbaum in the San Jose Mercury News ran on June 23rd, State's National Guard being probed by Army:
An Army investigator arrived in Sacramento this week to look into problems with the California National Guard just two weeks after the state's top general was forced to retire amid questions about his leadership.
An official with the Army Inspector General's Office has started interviewing top National Guard leaders as part of an ongoing shake-up of the state military that led to an attempt Wednesday to force out another veteran general, sources told the Mercury News.
Just the same ol' same ol' according to an anonymous National Guard official:
A National Guard official called the investigation ``routine,'' but the inspector general has been asked to look into various issues, including allegations that California improperly diverted federal funds meant to stem the flow of drugs to instead pay for new anti-terrorism programs.
The investigation comes two weeks after the California National Guard's leader, Maj. Gen. Thomas Eres, was forced into retirement amid allegations that he abused his power, helped a Republican friend line up a questionable military flight and failed to properly prove his shooting skills before taking a trip to Iraq.
After Eres resigned, sources said, the Schwarzenegger administration asked the Army inspector general to look into two issues: whether the National Guard had improperly used money meant to fight drugs to pay for anti-terrorism programs and whether the general had failed to take a required shooting course for a trip to Iraq.
According to legal opinions obtained by the Mercury News, the National Guard's own attorneys raised concerns that the state was improperly diverting federal money meant for anti-drug operations to set up special anti-terrorism teams.
Gee. I wasn't aware that Major Generals are forced to resign as a result of routine investigations.
National Guard sources said Wednesday that the Army investigator who arrived this week was also looking into older allegations surrounding a 2002 annual conference in Long Beach.
Last year, the National Guard Association of the United States sued the state military and its top officials over the conference. In the lawsuit, the advocacy group claimed that National Guard officials had offered to transfer a $90,000 donation from Warner Bros. to help the private association avoid layoffs. The group also claimed that guard officials used state offices to raise money for the convention and that military leadership retaliated against two leaders of the association by trying to end their careers.
Earlier this year, the Guard reportedly settled the lawsuit by paying the association $50,000.
A Brigadier General was routinely asked to retire as well:
While the Schwarzenegger administration is searching for a new Guard leader, its acting general moved Wednesday to oust a onetime candidate for the job.
Brig. Gen. Louis Antonetti, who was a finalist to lead the Guard last year when Schwarzenegger named Eres, was asked to retire by acting Adjutant Gen. John Alexander, sources said.
Reached at his home Wednesday night, Antonetti declined to comment.
A June 29th story by the Sac Bee adds that the Mother's Day anti-war protest was staged by known Al Quaida affiliates Code Pink, Gold Star Families for Peace and Raging Grannies. Now back to today's update from the San Jose Mercury News:
``Given the fact that we have been hitting a brick wall in our requests, I am concerned that while they're certainly promising full compliance, their actual compliance is still in question,'' Dunn said.
Concerns that the National Guard was laying the groundwork for domestic spying were heightened by internal e-mails obtained by the Mercury News showing high-level interest in a small Mother's Day anti-war rally at the state Capitol.
One e-mail from a top officer said he was passing along information on the protest to ``our Intell. folks who continue to monitor.''
While anti-war activists have raised alarms about the e-mails, Guard officials said the monitoring amounted to nothing more than scanning local newscasts for any stories on the demonstration. They said no soldiers attended the rally and that the National Guard does not engage in domestic surveillance.
Those assurances failed to assuage civil libertarians, lawmakers, the governor's office and Army investigators -- who are all trying to determine whether the Guard has crossed a legal line and engaged in domestic spying.
The Guard my be more willing to cooperate now that they have erased at least one hard drive:
Last week, Dunn asked the Guard to preserve any documents related to monitoring of the anti-war rally and the new intelligence unit.
At the same time, computer technicians at the Guard erased the hard drive of a retiring colonel who oversaw the intelligence unit and wrote the e-mail mentioning the ``Intell. folks.''
A top Guard official said the hard drive was erased before they received Dunn's letter asking them to preserve all information relating to the intelligence unit.
After learning that the hard drive had been erased, Dunn demanded immediate access for a computer specialist to recover any data, but was rebuffed by the Guard's top general who said any access would have to be coordinated with Army investigators who launched their own probe Wednesday.
Do you think part of the Army investigation is looking at how well the hard drive was erased? We certainly wouldn't want any classified National Guard information that wasn't sufficiently erased falling into the hands of a California state legislator.
It sounds to me like a couple of retired National Guard Generals are in good standing to get the Medal of Freedom award for realizing the National Guard was above the law:
On a separate track, Dunn unveiled new legislation meant to erect stronger anti-spying barriers in California. The senator said he would look to expand federal laws banning the military from engaging in domestic spying to cover the National Guard, which is generally exempt from that regulation.
For a good laugh, check out the L.A. Times coverage of this story, Military Launches Probe of National Guard Unit. Since the L.A. Times has no reason to cover Sacramento, the Governor, the State Legislature or northern California in general, they simply ran with an A.P. story.
The California National Guard surveillance program was called "Information Synchronization, Knowledge Management and Intelligence Fusion." Plug that into google and you get all kinds of hits. There's an interesting round-up of media stories was at Inbox Robot, but I didn't find any references to "Information Synchronization, Knowledge Management and Intelligence Fusion" earlier than the San Jose Mercury News article. Who knows how long this program would have continued if the Guard hadn't gotten caught monitoring a Mother's Day anti-war protest?
So much for "fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them over here." Time to find a new excuse for being in Iraq.
Al Qaeda has blessed George W. Bush with another nice gift. Expect an intensification of the Bush team's attacks on everyone they can smear as a dove.
The Commander in Chief has a lot of propaganda leverage in situations like this. It's hard to say what anyone could do now to convince people that the Iraq War never did have much to do with the War on Terrorism, even though it's true.
Even before the bombing the following message was posted at The Poor Man, apropos of nothing:
Look that Sandnigger in the eye for a few seconds you pansy leftists! Let it burn in. There is another one just like him out there just waiting to murder you. Two or 3 more hits on this country and people who vomit the bile that they do in here will be hunted down and killed!
The Bush-Rove team won in 2004 by playing to their hard right core constituency, and sooner or later guys like the one I just quoted are going to feel that the time is ripe. The Bush guys will maintain plausible deniability, of course.
P.S. Here's an obvious solution: expand the war from Iraq into Iran and Syria. We can expect to hear a lot of this kind of thing.
July 6, 2005
I joined a
blogger web journalist conference call with Howard Dean today. I was on my cellphone, at the side of the road, coming home from getting a crown... Just got home, have to go to a business meeting. I'll write about it soon.
At snow-moon, birth of a police state.
The First Amendment is not designed to protect the government from accountability.Update - Through The Daou Report, I found both Light Up The Darkness,
"This case is not about a whistle-blower," Fitzgerald added. "It's about potential retaliation against a whistle-blower." As Judith Miller’s attorneys attempt to portray her jailing as a threat to freedom of the press and the ability of journalist’s to expose government corruption, it’s important to remember the words of Mr. Fitzgerald. She is covering up for government corruption, not working to expose it.and Joe Wilson (Mr. Plame) at TPM Cafe,
[. . .] The difference is as clear as night and day. Exposing corruption. Complicit in corruption.
The sentencing of Judith Miller to jail for refusing to disclose her sources is the direct result of the culture of unaccountability that infects the Bush White House from top to bottom. President Bush’s refusal to enforce his own call for full cooperation with the Special Counsel has brought us to this point. Clearly, the conspiracy to cover up the web of lies that underpinned the invasion of Iraq is more important to the White House than coming clean on a serious breach of national security.Later, found Democratic Underground: Rove is Not a Whistle-Blower! Rove is Not a Source!,
"Rove" is not the journalists' source. "Rove" is a high government official who abused his power in order to intimidate a whistle-blower, because he didn't like what Wilson wrote in the New York Times.
And Judy Miller goes to jail. From the Left Coaster:
Judith Miller was just taken into custody, and will immediately serve a 120-day sentence in a federal District of Columbia facility, not exactly a nice place to be. Miller told the judge that she is still refusing to reveal her source, even though her source has released her from confidentiality, because Miller told the judge today that she believes her source was coerced into this "release" of confidentiality. So who then is Miller's source?
As for Time's Matt Cooper, he told the judge today that he has recently been given a release from confidentiality by his source, and when confronted with a "testify or go to jail now" choice by the judge, Cooper has decided to testify, and is doing so. Cooper is speaking to the press right now, and says that he got a "personal, umambiguous waiver" from his government source this morning, a source he has kept confidential for two years.
Hat tip to PacCollegeDem at MyDD, Rove to be indicted "this week or early next".
The original story is by Joshua Frank at Dissident Voice:
Occasionally I get emails from Washington folks who work on the Hill claiming to possess juicy insider digs on our public servants and their corporate paymasters. I usually delete said emails, as I don't want to be responsible for propagating dirty rumors or false information that can't be corroborated. I'd rather let Judith Miller and the New York Times do that. Nonetheless, in the past 24 hours I have been contacted by three separate congressional Democrats in Washington, by email and later phone, who all say the same thing: Karl Rove is about to be indicted.
A Red State comment has been making the rounds, and treated with skepticism by those of us in the reality based community:
Apparently, I'm not the only one who has been leaked this information either. Over at Redstate, a right-wing Internet blog, one member who calls himself "Ohsure", also claims that "[four] Great sources confirmed" the matter, and later added: "I not only don't do this, I have never done this. But here it is; `Karl Rove will be indicted late this, or early next week.' I'm trusting a source. So either I am made a [sic] into an overzealous horses a**, or..., I have good sources and may be more trusted to get these things right."
Another hat tip to a community of Texas bloggers Come and Take It for a link to two articles that support the story at Prarie Weather. One over at Find Law by John Dean and one at Raw Story that both discuss the White House hiring private outside counsel.
This is a great month to be a Democrat.
(That second link is to the old Blogger site, which isn't working well. (It's Blogger...) Search the page for "Bill Stewart" to see the post.)
Stephanie Miller was talking about this on Air America yesterday morning, Jeb Bush...Shocking 'Coin Gate' Crimes and Murder:
The reason for the cover-up of Lemme's reported "suicide" is simple. Investigators have now discovered that foreign cash, including Chinese, Saudi, and Nigerian money, was laundered via the biggest state-run cash cow in Florida -- the Florida Turnpike system. Because most of the transactions involving Florida's toll roads involve cash and huge amounts of it, it was easy for foreign and other questionable money to be laundered via FDOT. Lemme had reportedly become aware of the use of FDOT to commit criminal acts. Valdosta, where Lemme went to meet a still unknown source, is a key center for international organized criminal activity, including illegal foreign worker smuggling, involving close political allies of George W. and Jeb Bush
With the media focus on Bush's first nomination to the Supreme Court, this is as good a time as any to take back the Constitution. Whether you call it
original intent or textualism , the idea that conservatives have been divinely ordained with the ability of channeling the founders, and that channeling the founders is the only legitimate method of interpreting the Constitution, is inherently flawed.
The radical Constitutional nabobs, led by Bork and Scalia, and institutionalized by The Federalist Society, are not only wrong, they are dangerously wrong. It is not a “liberal” interpretation of the Constitution that offends them. They are offended by both a libertarian as well as an authentic interpretation of the Constitution of the United States. Justice Stevens is not a liberal, he is a moderate who was appointed by President Ford. Justice O'Connor is not a moderate. With one very big exception and a half dozen or so minor exceptions, she is a somewhat principled conservative, who was appointed by President Reagan. There are no liberals currently serving on the Supreme Court.
For decades, the Right Wing Noise Machine has been pushing the meme that conservatives have a divine insight into the only correct method of Constitutional interpretation. We have a lot of catching up to do. The Bork/Scalia dandies are already all over the airwaves on cable and talk radio, pretending that if a specific word isn’t in the Constitution, then the courts don’t have the authority to over rule Congress or state legislatures.
Credit to Framed for Posterity : The Enduring Philosophy of the Constitution by Ralph Ketcham, for the following four inherent factual flaws with original intent, or textualism:
(1.) Who were the founders?
(a.) The authors of the Federalist Papers.
(b.) The authors of the Anti-Federalist Papers.
(c.) The members of the Constitutional Convention.
(d.) The delegates to the state ratification conventions.
(e.) The members of Congress and the state legislatures who proposed and ratified the Bill of Rights.
(2.) What did all of these thousands of people agree on besides the broad outline of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights?
(3.) Considering the inaccuracy and incompleteness of the records, how is it possible to know precisely what the “founders” thought about specific issues, even if we could identify with certainty who they were?
(4.) What was the original meaning of specific words at the time the Constitution was ratified? Word usage and circumstances change too much over time to be an accurate and detailed guide to modern interpretation.
The answers to those questions are only some of the factual reasons the conservative theory of a laminated Constitution is inherently flawed. There are also broad philosophical reasons they are wrong. First, they make the same mistake interpreting the Constitution that they make interpreting the Bible. Original intent focuses on the literal words of the text and misses the higher meaning and the revolutionary spirit of the Constitution. Conservatives ignore the admonishment that “the letter killeth, the spirit giveth life.” The meaning and significance of both the Bible and the Constitution are not in the text, but in the deeper truth and spirit of both documents. By locking the Bible and the Constitution up in a textual prison, conservatives diminish the deeper poetic truths that resonate through the ages.
The Enlightenment or The Age of Reason was not the only intellectual force that shaped our Constitution. Edward S. Corwin is without question one of the most respected Constitutional scholars in American history. In Richard Loss’s collection of Corwin essays, Corwin On The Constitution, vol. I, Corwin has a fascinating chapter on The Impact of the Idea of Evolution on the American Political and Constitutional Tradition.
Darwin’s Evolution of the Species was not a part of the intellectual mystique that informed America’s founding fathers, but it is consistent with the idea of progress, which did shape the Constitution. Corwin's analysis is also relevant to the contempt that Bork and Scalia have for the Constitutional standard of "evolving standards of decency." Corwin points out that ”Darwinism evolutionism, translated into social terms, became reformism.” It also became reformism with a socialist twinge, which is what radical conservatives and Christian fascists are up in arms about. Bork, Scalia, Thomas and Bush do not venerate American history or the American Constitutional tradition. They bombard America’s political and legal tradition with deceit, non sequiturs and false declarations of what America’s founding fathers believed and selectively choose what they said.
Corwin examines the impact that evolution had on American society and American law:
A subordinate question at once arises; Whose conception of evolution are we talking about? Three lines of thought have to be taken account of in answering this question: (a) Spencerian evolutionism; (b) the Darwinian theory of biological descent; (c) modern “pragmatism” or “instrumentalism.” But I propose to devote some passing attention also to a fourth line of thought, which, while not the product of evolutionism, has indubitably contributed to the latter’s impact upon the American tradition – I mean the Marxian doctrine of class struggle. - which, besides being a sort of specialized version of the generalized notion of the struggle for existence, has indirectly contributed to American reformism looking to the economic betterment of the masses.
As Justice Holmes observed in his classic dissent in Lochner v. New York, “The Fourteenth Amendment does not enact Mr. Herbert Spencer's Social Statics.” Corwin quotes Huxley to illustrate, fittingly, that the dog eat dog economic determinism of Herbert Spencer lost in the market place of ideas;
“Unfortunately, facts were always cropping up to disturb his logic. Hence Huxley’s quip, that Spencer’s “idea of a tragedy was a beautiful theory killed by an ugly fact.”
Supply side economics is little more than Spencer's Social Statistics dressed up in a new suit and it is still bad economic theory. When dealing with radical conservatives, it is simply pointing out the obvious to say that the more things change the more they stay the same. Just this morning I watched Inherit the Wind on cable and heard Spencer Tracy’s character get accused of “hating the bible” for defending his client’s right to teach evolution in public schools.
In addition to evolution and progress, Corwin also emphasizes the importance of the classic American idea of the Frontier, which without question was as much part and parcel of the intellectual milieu of the founders as the idea of revolution. America gave new meaning to both the word and the idea of a frontier. The Age of Reason and the ideas of the American Frontier and Progress carried over to the doctrine of Manifest Destiny, and continues with us today in the opening montage voice over for Star Trek, “to boldly go where no man has gone before.”
It’s not just in general Constitutional principles that radical conservative theory fails, but in individual cases as well. Scalia’s dissent in Atkins v. Virginia documented the historical standard of “idots versus imbeciles” (emphasis added):
The Court makes no pretense that execution of the mildly mentally retarded would have been considered “cruel and unusual” in 1791. Only the severely or profoundly mentally retarded, commonly known as “idiots,” enjoyed any special status under the law at that time. They, like lunatics, suffered a “deficiency in will” rendering them unable to tell right from wrong. 4 W. Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England 24 (1769) (hereinafter Blackstone); see also Penry, 492 U.S., at 331-332 (“[T]he term ‘idiot’ was generally used to describe persons who had a total lack of reason or understanding, or an inability to distinguish between good and evil”); id., at 333 (citing sources indicating that idiots generally had an IQ of 25 or below, which would place them within the “profound” or “severe” range of mental retardation under modern standards); 2 A. Fitz-Herbert, Natura Brevium 233B (9th ed. 1794) (originally published 1534) (An idiot is “such a person who cannot account or number twenty pence, nor can tell who was his father or mother, nor how old he is, etc., so as it may appear that he hath no understanding of reason what shall be for his profit, or what for his loss”). Due to their incompetence, idiots were “excuse[d] from the guilt, and of course from the punishment, of any criminal action committed under such deprivation of the senses.” 4 Blackstone 25; see also Penry, supra, at 331. Instead, they were often committed to civil confinement or made wards of the State, thereby preventing them from “go[ing] loose, to the terror of the king’s subjects.” 4 Blackstone 25; see also S. Brakel, J. Parry, & B. Weiner, The Mentally Disabled and the Law 12-14 (3d ed. 1985); 1 Blackstone 292-296; 1 M. Hale, Pleas of the Crown 33 (1st Am. ed. 1847). Mentally retarded offenders with less severe impairments–those who were not “idiots”–suffered criminal prosecution and punishment, including capital punishment. See, e.g., I. Ray, Medical Jurisprudence of Insanity 65, 87-92 (W. Overholser ed. 1962) (recounting the 1834 trial and execution in Concord, New Hampshire, of an apparent “imbecile”–imbecility being a less severe form of retardation which “differs from idiocy in the circumstance that while in [the idiot] there is an utter destitution of every thing like reason, [imbeciles] possess some intellectual capacity, though infinitely less than is possessed by the great mass of mankind”); A. Highmore, Law of Idiocy and Lunacy 200 (1807) (“The great difficulty in all these cases, is to determine where a person shall be said to be so far deprived of his sense and memory as not to have any of his actions imputed to him: or where notwithstanding some defects of this kind he still appears to have so much reason and understanding as will make him accountable for his actions …”).
This extraordinary paragraph is an example of how determined Scalia is to denounce the very idea of progress in human affairs. Highmore recognized what Scalia skips right over. In 1807 there were no experts who were proficient at identifying different degrees of mental retardation. According to Scalia’s pinched reading of the Constitution, the Supreme Court is prohibited from allowing any procedures for identifying mental capacity developed since 1847. Did Scalia have a principled reason for cutting off progress in understanding the mentally disabled in the year 1847? Or was that the last date Scalia could come up with that was sufficiently neanderthal to suit his constitution?
I have to wonder if Scalia would also encourage the same means of identifying mentally retarded people who have not committed a crime as "imbeciles" or "idiots." Would Scalia also like to prohibit contemporary educational and socialization programs for the mentally retarded? What principled basis is there for allowing progress in one setting, but not in the other? Under what other circumstances would Scalia demand that experts wear chronological blinders?
Scalia also believes that the Catholic church and the Bible are not to be subjected to the ideological tyranny of evolving standards of decency. Sister Helen Prejean, of Dead Man Walking fame, whose brother just happens to be another one of Justice Scalia’s duck hunting buddies, includes an extensive crtique of Scalia in an article in the Catholic News Service. Scalia does not approve of the position of the Catholic Church on the death penalty:
He was particularly critical of an amicus, or friend-of-the-court, brief filed by the U.S. bishops and other religious groups in Atkins vs. Virginia, the case about a retarded defendant sentenced to death. Scalia ridiculed the brief as the "court's most feeble effort to fabricate 'national consensus'" against capital punishment.
Catholic doctrine was perfected in the 13th century:
In public appearances Scalia not only has defended the death penalty as constitutionally solid, but he has argued that the church doctrine approving of capital punishment dating to St. Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century and St. Augustine in the fourth century still prevails. He has said that more recent teachings of Pope John Paul II are not obligatory because they were not spoken ex cathedra, Latin for from the chair, meaning the pope intended them to be accepted as infallible teachings of the church.
This is classic Antonin. For a religion where “death is no big deal,” Christians sure do make a big deal out of the crucifixion and the "culture of life." Maybe Little Tony made this statement before he got the talking points on Teri Schiavo. Scalia’s death penalty decisions manage to deform both the Constitution and the Bible by inserting the Redneck Warmonger Jesus of Christian fascists into the Constitution.
[Sister Helen Prejean's] book cites Scalia's comments at the Chicago forum in 2002, in which he says secularist societies are losing the notion that governments act with God's favor, including when they mete out capital punishment.
The Scalia quote also says that "the more Christian a country is, the less likely it is to regard the death penalty as immoral," and that efforts to abolish the death penalty have the least support in "the churchgoing United States ... (because) for the believing Christian, death is no big deal."
"Governments act with God's favor." Does Little Tony really think the divine right of Kings is part of the Constitution? Didn't Americans came to America to escape that kind of noxious belief? Could it be any clearer that Scalia favors a Constitutional Theocracy over a Constitutional Republic?
Apparently the "culture of life" is also an infinitely flexible concept, perhaps with color coded alerts, depending on Dr. James Dobson's mood on any given day. I wonder what James Madison thought about destroying stem cells, blastocytes and white girls in a persistent vegetative state?
Another recent Scalia decision that reeks with hypocrisy was his concurrence in Gonzales v. Raich. A principled position for Scalia in Raich would have been to join O’Connor’s dissent, for exactly the same reasons he joined O’Connor’s dissent in Kelo v. New London. Digby crucifies Scalia, and indirectly the entire court In A Land Called Honalee for deciding that interstate commerce includes medicinal marijuana, but not guns near school yards.
The Supreme Court’s decision in Castle Rock v. Gonzales reinforced the court’s precedents that women are entitled to lesser Constitutional rights than men. Castle Rock was almost completely ignored by the M$M, but Common Dreams has a good summary of the case. In spite of a clear Colorado statute passed by the state legislature and a restraining order signed by a local judge, Scalia reasoned that a woman's right to have her restraining order enforced was a discretionary duty that the Castle Rock police department was permitted to ignore.
In fairness to the radical conservative minority on the Rhenquist court, accusations that they hate women are an over-simplification. The Rhenquist court has been generally hostile to claims of individual liberty rights and the doctrine of substantive due process for any citizen, regardless of gender. The Rhenquist court has balanced their hostility towards private citizens by being generally favorable towards government intrusion into the private lives of American citizens as well as their public records.
For their part, the Bush administration argued that to “uphold the 10th Circuit's findings would inappropriately insert the federal courts into state matters,” which was not a concern for Bush when he signed bankruptcy legislation and the No Child Left Behind Act. Inappropriately inserting the federal government into traditional state matters was not a concern for Bush, and other radical conservatives, in the Sciavo fiasco or persecuting medicinal marijuana users.
I can't leave the issue of strict construction without paying homage to the Rhenquist court's "actual innocence" decision in Herrera v. Collins. There were only four concurring opinons, but then it was decided in 1993 and Clarence Thomas was still getting the hang of writing his own opinions. I'm sure it wasn't from a lack of gusto for the subject matter. Nothing says conservative like executing an innocent man. It must be with deep regret that Scalia et. al. have been forced to resign themselves to the unfortunate failure of the Rhenquist court to be presented with the opportunity to justify executing an innocent minor, or better yet, an innocent mentally retarded minor.
It’s amazing how much flexibility strict constructionists grant themselves to bend and stretch Constitutional principles, considering how vociferously they complain about “activist liberal judges.” Judicial activism, like beauty and pornography, are in the eye of the beholder.
If you've read this far and are still hungry for more Scalia bashing, check out Dave's post from two years ago, Scalia and Self Government. It's not that we enjoy picking on Little Tony, but that he makes it so easy.
Hat tip to Iteachyourkids at MyDD, Mom, Who Lost Son In Iraq, Talks About 'Disgusting' White House Private Meeting With Bush.
Bush and the Republican party cannot be trusted with the lives our our sons and daughters in Iraq:
Cindy Sheehan has already had her heart ripped into a million pieces by the illegal Iraqi war, losing the son she loved more than life itself only five days after he arrived in Baghdad in April 2004.
There is nothing more painful or more heart breaking than a parent losing a child.
No one should have to experience such pain, but the cold reality of war is that someone’s child actually dies and there are actual parents left living with the hopeless task of trying to cope with the pain.
And anyone with any semblance of a heart and soul knows a mother coping with such a loss needs all the help and understanding she can get.
Anyone with the slightest bit of compassion knows a kind word or a shoulder to cry on helps a mother, who experienced the ultimate loss, get through another day when every day feels like it could be the end of the world.
But what she encountered was an arrogant man with eyes lacking the slightest bit of compassion, a President totally "detached from humanity" and a man who didn’t even bother to remember her son’s name when they were first introduced.
Instead of a kind gesture or a warm handshake, Sheehan said she immediately got a taste of Bush arrogance when he entered the room and "in a condescending tone and with a disgusting loud Texas accent," said: "Who we’all honorin’ here today?"
"His mouth kept moving, but there was nothing in his eyes or anything else about him that showed me he really cared or had any real compassion at all. This is a human being totally disconnected from humanity and reality. His eyes were empty, hollow shells and he was acting like I should be proud to just be in his presence when it was my son who died for his illegal war! It was one of the most disgusting experiences I ever had and it took me almost a year to even talk about it," said Sheehan in a telephone conversation from Washington D.C. where she was attending a July 4th anti-war rally.
"The whole meeting was simply bizarre and disgusting, designed to intimidate instead of providing compassion. He didn’t even know our names," said Sheehan. "Finally I got so upset I just looked him in the eye, saying ‘I think you can imagine losing someone. You have two daughters. Imagine losing them?’ After I said that he just looked at me, looked at me with no feeling or caring in his eyes at all."
"Your grandchildren and children who will be entering Kindergarten this fall will be fighting George's endless war if he gets his way and is allowed to continue spreading the cancer of imperialism in the Middle-East….
"Think about it when you tuck your child into bed tonight."
Cindy Sheehan is the founder of Gold Star Families For Peace.
Lew Rockwell has a recent interview with Cindy by Kevin B Zeese. Here's a poem at the end or the interview:
A Nation Rocked to sleep
by Carly Sheehan
Sister of Casey KIA 04/04/04
Sadr City Baghdad
Have you ever heard the sound of a mother screaming for her son?
The torrential rains of a mother's weeping will never be done
They call him a hero, you should be glad that he's one, but
Have you ever heard the sound of a mother screaming for her son?
Have you ever heard the sound of a father holding back his cries?
He must be brave because his boy died for another man's lies
The only grief he allows himself are long, deep sighs
Have you ever heard the sound of a father holding back his cries?
Have you ever heard the sound of taps played at your brother's grave?
They say that he died so that the flag will continue to wave
But I believe he died because they had oil to save
Have you ever heard the sound of taps played at your brother's grave?
Have you ever heard the sound of a nation being rocked to sleep?
The leaders want to keep you numb so the pain won't be so deep
But if we the people let them continue another mother will weep
Have you ever heard the sound of a nation being rocked to sleep?
May 30, 2005
If we sent Democrats to speech therapy classes, do you think they could learn to repeat this simple declarative sentence?
Republicans can not be trusted with our money, our health or our Constitution and they lie to the media and the American people.
Is this sentence so hard to say?
Bush and the Republican party cannot be trusted with the lives of your sons and daughters in Iraq.
July 5, 2005
I'm asking again, why does Karl Rove have continued access to the White House, and a Security Clearance? He is under investigation for treason, accused of leaking information about the CIA's efforts to stop terrorists from obtaining weapons of mass destruction, thereby destroying the CIA's operation.
It is normal procedure to revoke access and clearances during investigations of this type. Why not for Rove? Is this a sign that the investgation is a whitewash?
Call your member of Congress and ask why Rove's security clearance and White House access have not been revoked!
There are indications that Bush might not pick a right-winger for the Supreme Court after all. At least, if the title of this article is to be believed. USATODAY.com - Q&A: Bush wants justice of 'great integrity and intellect'
July 4, 2005
How much of that do you think went straight into the pockets of the Republican Party and its cronies?
No way to know.
No Congressional investigation? How much went into the Swiss bank accounts of the Congressional investigators?
No way to know.
No Justice Department investigation? How much went into the Swiss bank accounts of the Justice Department investigators?
No way to know.
That's what accountability is about. Having a way to know.
July 3, 2005
Got an email from DFA today, with the subject, "Fun Picnic - Meet politicians"
My wife adds, "and eat nails."
This is a well-written, fair story. I have to congratulate these right-wing talk-show hosts for taking a risk and putting themselves where their mouths are. Good for them.
I wonder what will happen if this is for real and they actually DO get away from the carefully-guarded hotels? Are they really going to try to go places without military escorts, or is this just a lie? And if they really are going to try to do that, I hope they're right that Iraq is better than is being reported. If something happens to one of these high-profile people while in Iraq it could have a devastating effect on anti-terrorism efforts.
John at AMERICAblog makes a very good point. Why is Karl Rove in the White House today? We have a guy here accused of one of the most serious acts of treason in our country's history, and they won't revoke his security clearance and remove him from the White House while the charges are looked into? Huh? This guy has access to everything, and is accused of divulging secrets! And he hangs with people who have been indicted for revealing national security secrets to other countries!
Remember the STF Rule: when Republicans accuse it usually means it is something THEY are doing. Rove recently accused Democrats of treason.
I'm curious what king of search hits are generated of I post the following words:
how to tap a cell phone, under 16 nude girls, porn, porno, bush lies, first time sex, girl teens, shocking pictures, rape sex, gay sex, rape porn, nude photo, young girls naked, personality quizes, quizzes or tests, sex scandal photos, optical illusions, SATs, LSATs, political teen, screwing teens
paris hilton, lego star wars, jessica simpson, thong, green day, women, camel toe, poker, janet jackson video, harry potter, jessica simpson, jennnifer lopez, pandemic, doom, Jeff Gordon Girlfriend, Taoism, InuYasha Episode
In the post Are you experienced? Dare to use what you know, Liberal Street Fighter's shirah writes about the gap between right-wing economic theory, and what people actually do.
The econ-talk reigns supreme despite the fact that we now have an abundance of evidence that fundamental parts of the theory do not work out in reality. The laboratory that has tested some economic experiments has been whole countries. Others are being tested at the most minute levels. Al Roth at Harvard has been a leader in testing economic theory.(Those paragraphs were full of links and you have to go to shirah's post to click them.)
Many of these experiments show that a basic tenet of economics - selfishness - does not explain behavior and choices, even economic ones. They find that humans - and some primates (our relatives) - act based on kindness, fairness, reciprocity, and community needs.
Finding that people are motivated by fairness, reciprocity, and communal needs is not surprising. We see people behave altruistically all the time - the fire fighers who rushed into the Twin Towers on 9-11 are not an aberration. So in this case our experience should at least push us to challenge what econ-talk tells us.
I like to say that science is supposed to DEscribe what happens, while ideology says, "if only people would do so-and-so, such-and-such would happen." Some of my favorite examples are the idea that lowering taxes causes the economy to grow. But history shows the opposite! Clinton, for example, raised taxes and the economy soared. Reagan cut taxes and the economy plunged into recession. Then, when taxes were increased because of the increasing deficits, the economy picked back up.
Which reminds me. Did you see what Doonesury had to say about bloggers today? Apparently "If the market really valued what you have to say, wouldn't someone pay you for it?" Well, I hope "the market" doesn't like what I have to say, because I don't have good things to say about reducing humanity, personality, intellect, spirituality, culture and values to "markets" -- one-dollar-one-vote systems that reduce people to economic cogs and values them according to what goods they produce or consume, and how much they can do to make a few rich fucks richer.
In Aggressive Prosecutors, Mary compares Matt Cooper and Judith Miller asking for home detention, to Susan McDougal's treatment by Ken Starr:
And for some of us, the fact that Judith Miller will be prevented from enacting her trade of providing right-wing lies and conspiracy theories will seem like some level of justice has finally prevailed. Will we get to see her sporting the chains and orange jump suit that Susan wore? Susan spent 18 months behind bars, whereas Judith who was responsible for creating lies that cost the lives of over 1700 US soldier deaths and thousands of innocent Iraqi deaths faces a total of 4 months. I do hope she enjoys her time off without access to her cell phone and the internets. Too bad Chalabi won't be able to reach her to feed her his latest con.
Here's the thing, though. Let's not forget that Wilson was right. There was no yellowcake. Rove and his minions discredited Wilson and destroyed his wife's cover because he was telling the truth.And, I would add, and it would mean no war.
Karl Rove and others in the White House exposed an undercover CIA agent in order to cover up their lies about Iraq.Everyone on the same page?
Update - Also, Bob! Bob! Bob!
July 2, 2005
He [Rove's lawyer] did say that Rove himself had testified before the grand jury "two or three times" and signed a waiver authorizing reporters to testify about their conversations with him.Reporters wouldn't be going to jail to protect a source who has signed a document releasing them from confidentiality. So either it is someone else, or the reporters understand that Rove signed the document as a formality, and worse things than jail will happen to them if they snitch on this White House.
There's a problem undermining the glorious fantasy of the "great unraveling" (of the trail of bread crumbs right up the BushCo hierarchy). These guys obsess about Watergate. For thirty years they've been thinking about and practicing (Iran-Contra) how to prevent a repeat of what they see as Nixon's great failure -- not being crooked, but being caught at it. (They've incidentally been searching for, and constantly attempting to manufacture, a "Democrat Watergate", with no success.)
They have demonstrated over and over again, especially recently, that there is only one felony: disloyalty to Bush. And all misdemeanors are punished by promotion or Friday afternoon resignation and Monday morning hiring at forty times the salary just down the street.
So, maybe they have licked Watergate this time -- maybe they will ALL JUST NOT TALK. It's not like the Department of Justice is going to really go after them. And the Washington culture of blatant corporate corruption is so openly tolerated (celebrated!) that who will even notice that today's "third-rate burglars" are tomorrow's multimillionaires?
Bilmon reminds us why the selection of O'Connor's replacement is important and why it is important to understand history:
Shall I tell you what this collision means? They who think that it is accidental, unnecessary, the work of interested or fanatical agitators, and therefore ephemeral, mistake the case altogether. It is an irrepressible conflict between opposing and enduring forces, and it means that the United States must and will, sooner or later, become either entirely a slaveholding nation, or entirely a free-labor nation . . . It is the failure to apprehend this great truth that induces so many unsuccessful attempts at final compromises between the slave and free States, and it is the existence of this great fact that renders all such pretended compromises, when made, vain and ephemeral. William Henry Seward On the Irrepressible Conflict October 1858
Kudos to paradox at The Left Coaster for putting the obligatory paeans to O'Connor in perspective, One Down, Four To Go:
Bush vs. Gore makes a total mockery of the law and smashed the integrity of our democracy.
I dare one cogent law mind to come forth and defend Bush vs. Gore. Not one will—not even John Yoo, just 40 miles north of here, will even try. His Dean, the old Republican rep Campbell, cannot either, not a chance.
Ever since that Saturday morning my country has sailed over the cliff to destruction for the start off the new millennia, and this felon traitor to our Democracy O’Connor is one of the five master players who started it all. Good riddance, four to go.
(snip) . . . I don’t understand the decorum involved in stabling this beast forever, it baffles me there seems to be some kind of mass denial about it, and I’m angry she seems to be skating away with it yet again. O’Connor answered to no one, and never will, over Bush vs. Gore. Here, at least in this tiny space and time, she is held accountable for the horrors of George Bush.
July 1, 2005
Last fall the FDA issued a warning about a link between anti-depressants and suicidal tendencies in children. The FDA has just ordered a review of anti-depressants "to determine whether the widely used drugs can increase the risk of suicidal tendencies in adults."
Has Big Pharma discovered a line of anti-depressants that make you happy about being suicidal? Could that explain Bush's recent behavior?
In other news, China has opened a clinic for online addicts.
According to government figures, China has the world's second-largest online population -- 94 million -- after the United States.
Treatment includes therapy, medication, acupuncture and sports. If you are reading this post, it is very likely you are a crazed internet addict. In the absence of treatment centers in the United States, you might try getting a prescription for anti-depressants.
[Title edited] I edited the title of this post as an after thought tribute to the theme song for Mash, Suicide Is Painless
There's a new ad over on the right. It says, in part,
For the first time in over a decade, there’s a vacancy on the Supreme Court. Unless we act quickly and forcefully, the Bush administration will make sure it’s filled by a right-wing activist bent on ending a woman’s right to choose.Yes, this IS the big one. The Supreme Court has been divided 5-4 on many decisions, and outgoing Justice O'Connor has been the deciding vote on a number of these cases. Most notably abortion.
So this is the big one for abortion. This is it. Next year states could have the right to decide if you or someone you know can or can not have an abortion if necessary. Believe it or not.
P.S. I found that 5-4 list through The Carpetbagger Report, who writes
As the debate moves forward in the coming months, everyone will have a stake in the outcome. Abortion, church-state separation, civil liberties, affirmative action, gay rights, the environment, federal regulation of businesses, criminal justice, labor rights, election law … you name it, O'Connor has helped decide it. Take a moment to read People for the American Way's list of 5-4 rulings in which O'Connor made the difference. It's stunning.
I was on a
blogger web magaziners conference call today with Senator Kennedy. A great write-up to read is TalkLeft: Blogger Conference Call With Sen. Kennedy Re: O'Connor Retirement. Another is at Dem Bloggers.
I asked the Senator if he has a "cloakroom sense" of what the Republicans are going to do -- nominate a consensus candidate that both sides can vote for, or go to the far right with a no-compromise confrontational approach. He said he sees ominous signs, that the right-wing groups have already raised $18 million for a fight. So he fears they are going to nominate someone from the far right.
I suspect it could well be Janice Rogers Brown. (She is one of the judges from the filibuster fight.) She is far-far-right, and a black woman.
The Republicans will see this entirely in political terms, seeing this as an opportunity to split the Democratic coalition. They think black people will support her entirely on skin color, which is how they (Republicans) see things, and women will support her entirely on gender, which is also how they see things.
Update Sadly, No! predicts it will be Reverend Sun Myung Moon
We can make gains in 2006 by pointing out a simple truth: Republicans think things are great in Iraq. Democrats know that isn't true. Republicans think the economy is great. Demcorats know that isn't true. Republicans believe that the direction of this country has never been better. Democrats know that isn't true. Demcorats will make an economy that works for everyone. Demcorats will make a more accountable Iraq, with a real timetable to end the war. Democrats know the future can be better, while Repbulicans think everything is fine as it is.Of course go read the whole thing.