Thursday, June 30, 2005

Today's Message from Homeland Security



The Propaganda Remix Project

Time Cracks

Time Inc. will hand over Cooper's notes.
In a statement, Norman Pearlstine, Time Inc.'s editor in chief, said: "The same Constitution that protects the freedom of the press requires obedience to final decisions of the courts and respect for their rulings and judgments. That Time Inc. strongly disagrees with the courts provides no immunity. The innumerable Supreme Court decisions in which even presidents have followed orders with which they strongly disagreed evidences that our nation lives by the rule of law and that none of us is above it."
Norm is right about this. We either are a people of laws or we are not. It's that simple. Nixon complied and so must Time.

And protecting a party to the political equivalent of a drive-by shooting doesn't exactly make for compelling legal arguments.

I talked about this last night. As a publicly held corporation, Time really doesn't have a choice. If they want to keep this from happening in the future, they can make agreements with their reporters that reporter notes are the property of the reporter. I'm guessing that will never happen.

The Privatization Panacea

If we just privatizatize every aspect of Government all our problems will be solved, or so says our Republican leaders since Reagan.

And it's worked so well.

A TSA contractor retained to hire airport screeners has pissed away $300 million!

Per the Federal audit, here's how the money was spent:

  • $526.95 for one phone call from the Hyatt Regency O'Hare in Chicago to Iowa City.

  • $1,540 to rent 14 extension cords at $5 each per day for three weeks at the Wyndham Peaks Resort and Golden Door Spa in Telluride, Colo.

  • $8,100 for elevator operators at the Marriott Marquis in Manhattan.

  • $5.4 million claimed for nine months' salary for the chief executive of an "event logistics" firm that received a contract before it was incorporated and went out of business after the contract ended.

  • $20-an-hour temporary workers billed to the government at $48 per hour.

  • Subcontractors who signed out $5,000 in cash at a time with no supporting documents.

  • $377,273.75 in unsubstantiated long-distance phone calls.

  • $514,201 to rent tents that flooded in a rainstorm.

But when it comes to federal waste, $300 million is really just chump change. The Iraqi Provisional Authority can't account for $9 BILLION!

A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you're talking about real money.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Sounds Like Time is Cracking

Time Inc. has been ordered to turn over Matthew Cooper's notes. Thus far, they have refused and face contempt just like their reporter. Corporations can't go to jail so they get fined.

The NYTs Company doesn't have any documents, so, unlike their reporter, they are in the clear.

Time Inc. faces big fines.

Link
Judge Hogan expressed surprise that a public company like Time Warner, Time Inc.'s parent, would even consider violating a final court order. The Supreme Court turned down appeals in the case on Monday.
....

"I don't understand what Time can deliberate about," [Special Pros Fitzgerald] said. "They don't have a right to break the law. We shouldn't allow people to think that court orders are sort of optional."

Dawn Bridges, a spokeswoman for Time Inc., declined to comment about whether the company would comply with the order.
....

If Time supplies the documents - which include Mr. Cooper's notes - that could serve as a substitute for jailing Mr. Cooper, Mr. Fitzgerald suggested.
....

"Time Inc. has been a steadfast champion of the First Amendment, and they fought all the way to the Supreme Court," he said. "Corporations, though, are not individuals, and Time has to make a decision about what it's going to do. I would prefer that they not disclose the identity of my sources, but that's up to them."

Prof. John C. Coffee, an expert in corporate law at Columbia Law School, said Time Warner may have no choice but to comply.

"The board of directors and managers of a company are given great discretion to operate a company within boundaries set by law, including a lawful court order," he said. "I don't think they can continue to disobey a court order upheld by the United States Supreme Court."

Today's Message from Homeland Security



The Propaganda Remix Project

Bolton Update

As I think I've mentioned here before, Steve Clemons is the go-to guy on all things Bolton. Steve lives at the Washington Note.

He's now also hanging out at the TPM Cafe and had some interesting insights today on the status of Bolton's nomination. Basically, he thinks it's dead.

Many speculate that Bush will make a recess appointment this weekend. Steve says maybe but speculates that Bolton may not want that.

Steve also notes that outside of Cheney's office, Bolton isn't even liked or supported in the admin.

Keep Our Powder Dry

The experts seem to all agree that there will or won't be a Supreme Court vacancy in the coming weeks or months.

I saw a recent photo of the Chief Justice and I think he will retire soon. He looks awful.

The WaPo says that both sides are poised for a fight.
Within a day after President Bush taps a Supreme Court nominee, a conservative group with an $18 million budget for the confirmation fight plans to be on the air with a heartwarming ad featuring vintage photos of the candidate to try to cement a sympathetic portrait.

An abortion rights group is poised to shoot a detailed e-mail to 30,000 "rapid responders" who will help generate a barrage of calls to senators and letters to editors saying the landmark Roe v. Wade decision could be in danger. About 800,000 supporters will receive a more general warning and call to arms.
This showed up in my in-box yesterday from PFAW.

Assuming, as everyone does, that the resignation is the CJ, I think we need to be smart about our response.

First, We must resist the urge to be hysterical. Roe is not in danger with a Rehnquist retirement. Worst case scenario is another Rehnquist. Status quo.

The Rs would like nothing more then we shoot our wade on that fight. We must preserve our resources, our soldiers, and our public good will for the battles that we cannot lose.

Justice Stevens (Ford) is 84; Justice O'Connor (Reagan) 74 (and widely rumored to want to retire 4 years ago and return with her husband to Arizona); Justice Ginsburg (Clinton) 71 (health issues) or even Justice Kennedy (Reagan) who is 68 and like the rest of this list, votes with Roe, at least sometimes.

Make no mistake, not only is Roe in peril, but the entire 'right to privacy' line of cases upon which Roe is based, beginning with Griswold.

It's fashionable for a certain group on the left to dismiss concerns about Roe, informing those of us not as well wired that even conservatives secretly want to preserve the decision as a rally cry and fund raising tool. Don't need Jesus if you don't have the Devil.

I remind them of one of the revelations to come from Justice Blackmun's memoirs. Casey v. Planned Parenthood nearly overturned Roe in a 5 to 4 decision when Kennedy joined the court,
...Blackmun's notes show that Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist led a five-justice majority to overrule Roe. Four other justices voting with Rehnquist were Byron White, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Kennedy. Rehnquist himself was to write the majority opinion.

Unbeknownst to him, Kennedy was having second thoughts, and agreed with Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and David Souter, to a compromise position.
And finally, I'm not suggesting we roll over on any replacement of the CJ. Quit the opposite, I think we need to use the nomination of any unqualified hack or zealot to maximum PR benefit by strong, principled and focused opposition designed to build public good will and expose the right as the unprincipled kooks they are. Relentlessly call them out and shame those who support any unqualified hack. We will need it for the fight to the death that will no doubt come later.....on those Justices who might actually make a difference.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Today's Message from Homeland Security



The Propaganda Remix Project

The President's Address

I didn't catch all of G-dub's address so I really can't draw any conclusion. What I did hear sounded like more of the same tired old cheerleading that the public has grown tired of.

I also caught a part of the talking heads on CNN and have to say I was struck by how differently they treat G-dub these days. For years they were so deferential. Not any more. They seemed to be mocking Bush's factual claims. Of course, Bush's claims deserved mocking but the claims are neither new, nor newly false. With Bush's approval ratings in the toilet and opposition to Iraq running high, the dew is off the lily.

Bottom line: If support for Bush and Iraq go up in the polling over the next 7 to 10 days the speech will have been a success. If not, a bust, and that is all that really matters.

UPDATE: Ezra has Bush's Speech By The Numbers.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Oil Prices Climb Above $60 Per Barrel

Here's a story not getting enough attention.

After climbing as high as $60.95 per barrel, an intraday record, the front-month August contract for crude rose 70 cents to close at $60.54 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It was the highest settlement on record at Nymex, where crude futures began trading in 1983. The previous settlement high was $59.84 a barrel, set Friday.

Adjusted for inflation, prices peaked in 1980 above $90 a barrel
I wonder how $3 per gallon for gas is going to go over?

Lying Liars

Link
First, note that for the first time, a full 40% say they “strongly disapprove” of Bush’s job performance, which dwarfs those who say they “strongly approve” (27%).

Second, and again for the first time, a majority (52%) now say that the Bush Administration “intentionally misled the American public” in making its case for war in Iraq.

Third, 57% now say that the Bush Administration did intentionally exaggerate its evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
(via Atrios)

Today's Message from Homeland Security

The Propaganda Remix Project

Repubs: Bush Needs Lead

Although not exactly new, the NYTs has an interesting article today on R concerns that Bush needs to get his act together.

A couple interesting observations. One, except for Newt, no one would go on the record.

Two, why it was so important that Ds not put up a Social Security Plan.

Here's the crux,
In discussing the White House's problems, Republicans cited a variety of assumptions and decisions that have not worked out as Mr. Bush and his team had planned. They said the administration may have overestimated how much of a mandate Mr. Bush had coming out of last year's campaign, underestimated the willingness of the Democrats to stand up to him and relied too much on a belief that he could force Congress into action by taking his case directly to the people.

They said a degree of difficulty was to be expected, given the scope of Mr. Bush's second-term ambitions. At the same time, they said, Mr. Bush and his team are struggling with a problem they never had during the campaign: with no high-profile political opponent as a foil, and with Democrats refusing to put forward competing proposals on issues like Social Security, the president and his policies stand on their own, with nothing to deflect partisan fire.

Should Mr. Bush have a Supreme Court vacancy to fill - a possibility that could present itself as early as Monday - it could further inflame partisan passions and complicate the prospects for the rest of his agenda, including his push for major new energy and trade legislation this summer, members of each party said.

"They thought because they had slain the Kerry dragon they could claim a mandate and do what they wanted to," said one prominent Republican in Washington, who insisted on anonymity to speak candidly about what some see as the administration's miscalculations. "Now they have to sell things, whether it's Iraq or stem cells or John Bolton - let alone Social Security - on their own merits."
As I've observed many times before, they don't even begin to know how to lead. They only know attack. Hence Rove's recent remarks.

Truly Unbelievable

Atrios points to Santorum writing at Catholic.org a couple years ago.
....Priests, like all of us, are affected by culture. When the culture is sick, every element in it becomes infected. While it is no excuse for this scandal, it is no surprise that Boston, a seat of academic, political and cultural liberalism in America, lies at the center of the storm.
Go read the whole thing, if you have the stomach.

I'll shorthand it for you. The pedophile priests are the victims of liberals who are the reason that the Catholic clergy is a hotbed of Pedophiles.

Cooper and Miller Off to Jail

Not surprisingly, the Supreme Court has declined to hear the appeal of Matthew Cooper and Judith Miller in the Plame investigation.

It really is best for reporters who want to protect their sources, that the SC didn't take this case. Bad facts make bad law and this matter has bad facts. Cooper and Miller are protecting a political hit squad. As I've noted before, this isn't the Pentagon Papers.

So, with their appeals exhausted, Cooper and Miller have to either rat or go to jail. What do you think they will do?

My bet is that they will rat.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Fiscal Disaster

I'm constantly amazed at the ability of these spendthrifts to endlessly convince people that they are the party of fiscal responsiblity.

Nick Kristof took on the myth in his Sunday column. Here's a taste,

"I think the greatest threat to our future is our fiscal irresponsibility," warns David Walker, the comptroller general of the United States. Mr. Walker, an accountant by training, asserts that last year may have been the most fiscally reckless in the history of our Republic. Aside from the budget deficit, Congress enacted the prescription drug benefit - possibly an $8 trillion obligation - without figuring out how to pay for it.

Mr. Walker, America's watchdog in chief and head of the Government Accountability Office, is no Bush-basher. He started out his career as a conservative Democrat, then became a moderate Republican and has been an independent since 1997.

The Armstrong Williams NewsHour

You've no doubt read or heard about the most recent attacks on PBS funding, but to fully appreciate just how creepy the Right-wing attack on Public Broadcasting is you should read Frank Rich's NYTs column.

....That money is not the $100 million that the House still threatens to hack out of public broadcasting's various budgets. Like the theoretical demise of Big Bird, this funding tug-of-war is a smoke screen that deflects attention from the real story. Look instead at the seemingly paltry $14,170 that, as Stephen Labaton of The New York Times reported on June 16, found its way to a mysterious recipient in Indiana named Fred Mann. Mr. Labaton learned that in 2004 Kenneth Tomlinson, the Karl Rove pal who is chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, clandestinely paid this sum to Mr. Mann to monitor his PBS bête noire, Bill Moyers's "Now."

Now, why would Mr. Tomlinson pay for information that any half-sentient viewer could track with TiVo? Why would he hire someone in Indiana? Why would he keep this contract a secret from his own board? Why, when a reporter exposed his secret, would he try to cover it up by falsely maintaining in a letter to an inquiring member of the Senate, Byron Dorgan, that another CPB executive had "approved and signed" the Mann contract when he had signed it himself? If there's a news story that can be likened to the "third-rate burglary," the canary in the coal mine that invited greater scrutiny of the Nixon administration's darkest ambitions, this strange little sideshow could be it.

Here is the very creepy answer,
Their guests were rated either L for liberal or C for conservative, and "anti-administration" was affixed to any segment raising questions about the Bush presidency. Thus was the conservative Republican Senator Chuck Hagel given the same L as Bill Clinton simply because he expressed doubts about Iraq in a discussion mainly devoted to praising Ronald Reagan. Three of The Washington Post's star beat reporters (none of whom covers the White House or politics or writes opinion pieces) were similarly singled out simply for doing their job as journalists by asking questions about administration policies.

"It's pretty scary stuff to judge media, particularly public media, by whether it's pro or anti the president," Senator Dorgan said. "It's unbelievable."

Indeed. You should read the whole thing.

Hagel is Keenly Aware of the Obvious

Over atDaily Kos we get a summary of Chuck Hagel's (R-Neb) remarks to a group of American Legion. It from a subscription only link so I'm cutting and pasting from Kos who did the same from the source.
Hagel sounds alarm over Iraq

BY JAKE THOMPSON
WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. - More than 200 Nebraska American Legion members, who have seen war and conflict themselves, fell quiet here Saturday as Sen. Chuck Hagel bluntly explained why he believes that the United States is losing the war in Iraq.

Sen. Chuck Hagel addresses more than 200 Nebraska American Legion members in Grand Island on Saturday.

It took 20 minutes, but it boiled down to this:

The Bush team sent in too few troops to fight the war leading to today's chaos and rising deaths of Americans and Iraqis. Terrorists are "pouring in" to Iraq.

Basic living standards are worse than a year ago in Iraq. Civil war is perilously close to erupting there. Allies aren't helping much. The American public is losing its trust in President Bush's handling of the conflict.

And Hagel's deep fear is that it will all plunge into another Vietnam debacle, prompting Congress to force another abrupt pullout as it did in 1975.

"What we don't want to happen is for this to end up another Vietnam," Hagel told the legionnaires, "because the consequences would be catastrophic."

It would be far worse than Vietnam, says Hagel, a twice-wounded veteran of that conflict, which killed 58,000 Americans.

Go to Kos for the whole article.

I got to these comments from a post by Matt Y. You should go read what Matt has to say. He's lost his patience with this sort of thing from the moderate Rs. Hagel knows very well that Bush won't do anything in response to these "rhetorical warning shots" so what's does Hagel plan to do about it.

DeLay Then and Now

Atrios shows us further evidence of the willingness of Rs are to exploit 9-11.

Today's Message from Homeland Security

The Propaganda Remix Project

My Posting

Sorry that my postings have been so light recently.

There are a lot of reasons for this that include work, boredom with current events, and it's summer.

I think I'm now past the boredom and plan on increasing my postings.

Thanks to everyone who reads The Ward Report.

I've started spending some on the Reader Blogs at the TPMCafe. Come check me out there too.

Speaking of Iraq,...

The NYTs has Three Things About Iraq that we all must acknowledge if we are going to have a real conversation about Iraq.

Roger Ailes has a fourth.

Iraqification

Rummy now says that Americans will not defeat the insurgency, but that job will have to be done by Iraqis AND it could take 12 years!
Rumsfeld, addressing a question about whether U.S. troops levels are adequate to vanquish the increasingly violent resistance, said, "We're not going to win against the insurgency. The Iraqi people are going to win against the insurgency. That insurgency could go on for any number of years. Insurgencies tend to go on five, six, eight, 10, 12 years.

"Coalition forces, foreign forces are not going to repress that insurgency,"the Pentagon Chief told "Fox News Sunday."

"We're going to create an environment that the Iraqi people and the Iraqi security forces can win against that insurgency," he said....
The plan of dumping this mess back into the laps of the Iraqi people is nothing new. I wrote about here last fall, and it wasn't new then.

I'm not suggesting that there is somehow a good plan to change the current reality. Joe Biden, in a refreshing address to the Brookings Institution offered a plan that you really should read if you're interested in this topic. The bottom line is that there is no easy way out.

Too bad no one ran this by the Iraqi people before we decided they needed to be liberated and forced into a 12 year bloodbath that was for their own good. This is perhaps the biggest crime of our disastrous adventure into Iraq, and no one seems to give it much thought.

Friday, June 24, 2005


Click to enlarge.

The Illustrated Daily Scribble

Wonders Never Cease

From TAPPED
....Rick Santorum's communications director, Robert Traynham, ....told me: "Karl Rove speaks for himself. He doesn't speak for the senator. On 9-11, there was no such thing as a Republican or a Democrat, and that's what the senator believes."
Instead of puffing our lower lips out demanding they say they're sorry, we should be hanging these remarks around their necks like an albatross.

Rick Santorum, or all people, has given us our message. After repeating the remarks of Santorum's CommD, we should demand they apologize to the victims of 9-11 for the shameless exploitation in lieu of a message.

Note the Difference....

in responses.

Democrats Call for Rove To Apologize
....But as the controversy grew yesterday, other Republicans issued statements in support of Rove that cited such Democrats as Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.), the 2004 presidential nominee; Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Del.); and Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (Ohio).

The acrimonious exchanges came just two days after Durbin bowed to Republican-led pressure and apologized for comparing the treatment of prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba to techniques used by the Nazis and the Soviets.
Durbin gives a weeping apology while they respond with support for their man.

Maybe we look weak because we are.

Instead of all our rightious indignation, we should be on the attack for yet another exploitation of the 9/11 tragedy for political gain as they sink further and further in the polls.

It is the victims of 9/11 who are entitled to the apology.

The Republians are vacious. They only have the attack. We should be giving better than we get. Our weeping replies to these attacks don't do us any good.

Baghdad Dick?

Is Dick Cheney the New 'Baghdad Bob'?

Thursday, June 23, 2005


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Durbin

I'm a very big fan of Dick Durbin who should be our Senate leader.

Having said that, I'm very disappointed with him over his recent remarks.

First, despite the fact that there was nothing wrong with what Durbin actually said, his comparison was idiotic as any fool would know the response.

In case you haven't read it, here is what Durbin said,
If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime — Pol Pot or others — that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners.
Although I never thought I would write these words, go see what Andrew Sullivan had to say.

Second, having said what he did, the idiocy was compounded by his later apology. Having made the comparisons, he must have the balls to stand behind his comments and not back down! Not ever. When called upon to do so, he needed to turn it around on his critics, as --and this really pains me to write -- Andrew Sullivan did.

And finally, he needed to tell Mayor Daley in no uncertain terms to STFU!

Kevin says all of this at the Washington Monthly, but I felt these points needed to be stated a little more forcefully than is Kevin's style.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Read The Moose

The Moose has got it right.
For all you conservative chumps outside the Beltway who continue to think that the Republican rule is all about limited government, read this front page story in the Washington Post by Jeff Birnbaum - The Road to Riches Is Called K Street.

"To the great growth industries of America such as health care and home building add one more: influence peddling.

"The number of registered lobbyists in Washington has more than doubled since 2000 to more than 34,750 while the amount that lobbyists charge their new clients has increased by as much as 100 percent. Only a few other businesses have enjoyed greater prosperity in an otherwise fitful economy."
There's more. Go Read The Moose.

Air America Staff Subject to Immediate Arrest

Bill O'Reilly calls for the arrest and imprisonment of the Air America staff:
Everybody got it? Dissent, fine; undermining, you're a traitor. Got it? So, all those clowns over at the liberal radio network, we could incarcerate them immediately. Will you have that done, please? Send over the FBI and just put them in chains, because they, you know, they're undermining everything and they don't care, couldn't care less.
What a kook.

No One to Demonize

Harold Meyerson, writing in today's WaPo makes an interesting observation. Here's the crux,
In the absence of an antiwar movement, the American people have turned against the war in Iraq. Those two facts, I suspect, are connected.
....
In a series of polls taken in November and December of 1969, the Gallup Organization found that 49 percent of Americans favored a withdrawal of U.S. forces and 78 percent believed that the Nixon administration's rate of withdrawal was "too slow." But there was one other crucial finding: 77 percent disapproved of the antiwar demonstrations, which were then at their height.

That disapproval was key to Nixon's political strategy. He didn't so much defend the war as attack its critics, making common cause with what he termed the "silent majority" against a mainstream movement with a large, raucous and sometimes senseless fringe. When Nixon won reelection in a landslide, it was clear that the strategy had worked -- and it has been fundamental Republican strategy ever since. Though the public sides with the Democrats on more key issues than it does with Republicans, it's Republicans who have won more elections, in good measure because the GOP has raised its ad hominem attacks on Democrats' character and patriotism to a science.

Which is why, however perverse this may sound, the absence of an antiwar movement is proving to be a huge political problem for the Bush administration, and why the Republicans are reduced to trying to turn Dick Durbin, who criticized our policies at Guantanamo Bay, into some enemy of the people. The administration has no one to demonize. With nobody blocking the troop trains, military recruitment is collapsing of its own accord. With nobody in the streets, the occupation is being judged on its own merits.

Unable to distract people from his own performance, Bush is tanking in the polls. And with congressional Democrats at least partly muting their opposition to an open-ended occupation, it's Bush's fellow Republicans -- most prominently, North Carolina's Walter Jones -- who are now calling our policy into question.

They Have No Shame

As I've previously mentioned, Ed Klein' latest book hits a new low in Hillary bashing.

Vanity Fair has chosen the excerpt the book, apparently with no fact checking.

Maura Moynihan takes issue not only Klein, but Vanity Fair as well. Here is a taste,
It is sorry proof of the national decline of standards and the perversion of priorities that Senator Hillary Clinton isnÂ’t getting coverage in Vanity Fair magazine--a New York-–based publication--—for her work in the U.S. Senate. Rather, the magazine'’s editors have decided that it is more newsworthy and relevant to excerpt a tawdry new book that hits a new low in Hillary-bashing.

Ed Klein, author of the book in question, The Truth About Hillary, alleges that New York'’s late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan "despised" Mrs. Clinton, that he once hid in a cloakroom to terminate a conversation with her. Nonsense. I think I know Senator Moynihan better than Mr. Klein, because he was my father. Mr. Klein also claims firsthand knowledge of a meeting between my parents and Mrs. Clinton that took place in their apartment in Washington. It was during this meeting that Mrs. Clinton, then the nationÂ’s First Lady, discussed the idea of running for the seat my father was about to vacate.

Mr. Klein puts quotes around statements that were never uttered. I can confirm this because the only other persons present during this meeting were myself and our Tibetan cook, who speaks about 10 words of English. Mr. Klein has now gone on the record to say that he spent "several hours interviewing Mrs. Moynihan." Puzzling indeed, in that Mrs. Moynihan--—my mother--—hasn'’t seen Mr. Klein in over 20 years. I'’d like to see the transcripts or hear the tapes of his on-the-record talks with Mrs. Moynihan. And it would have been difficult for him to interview Senator Moynihan, because he'’s dead.
There's more.

Flag Burning,....Again

The Republicans are in trouble so here we go again,

Into the Mix: A Ban on Flag Desecration
With the public image of Congress in the tank, House Republicans have vowed to focus on legislation that affects people's everyday lives, especially energy, tax and highway bills. But today the House will take up more red meat for the red states -- a bill "proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States authorizing the Congress to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States."

House Republican Conference Chairman Deborah Pryce (R-Ohio) chuckled when asked if that was a conflict and suggested that anyone who sees one is looking at the world through blue-colored glasses. "You know, this is probably as relevant to people's lives now as any other time," she said, "because of what's going on with Democrats putting everybody in the world before our soldiers and the American safety. They're so worried about what's going on at Guantanamo Bay. And the flag has a place in that debate."
Rep Pryce, what color is the sky in your world?

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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Worst Majority Leader Ever?

It is really hard to imagine how such a boob could be Majority Leader.

Frist Reverses Himself, Pushes Bolton Vote
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said Tuesday he would keep pressing for a vote on embattled U.N. nominee John Bolton's confirmation after President Bush insisted that throwing in the towel was not an option.

Hours earlier, Frist, R-Tenn., told reporters he would not schedule another vote on Bolton "at this juncture," having lost two since May at the hands of Democratic critics...
Josh asks some good questions
A) Who is the last Senate Majority Leader to have as bad a six months as Bill Frist has just had?

B) Has Frist's utter fealty to every direction of the White House now become an embarrassment even to members of his own caucus? Just out of some sense of residual institutional prerogative?

C) What does it say about Bush/Rove's opinion of Frist that they are now happy to humiliate him publicly on something close to a weekly basis

Monday, June 20, 2005

Someone Else's Child

Bob Herbert's column today is worth the read.

Here is the crux,
Last week's New York Times/CBS News Poll found that the mounting casualties and continuing turmoil in Iraq have made Americans increasingly pessimistic about the war. A majority said the U.S. should have stayed out of Iraq and only 37 percent approved of the president's handling of the war.

What hasn't changed is the fact that the vast majority of the parents who support the war do not want their children to fight it....

I don't know how you win a war that your country doesn't want to fight. We sent too few troops into Iraq in the first place and the number of warm bodies available for Iraq and other military missions going forward is dwindling alarmingly. The Bush crowd may be bellicose, but for most Americans the biggest contribution to the war effort is a bumper sticker that says "support our troops," and maybe a belligerent call to a talk radio station.

The home-front "warriors" who find it so easy to give the thumbs up to war endanger the truly valorous men and women who are actually willing to put on a uniform, pick up a weapon and place their lives on the line.

The president and these home-front warriors got us into this war and now they don't know how to get us out. Nor do they have a satisfactory answer to the important ethical question: how do you justify sending other people's children off to fight while keeping a cloak of protection around your own kids?

If the United States had a draft (for which there is no political sentiment), its warriors would be drawn from a much wider swath of the population, and political leaders would think much longer and harder before committing the country to war.
It's worth noting that every single member Bush's neocon war planners avoided service in Vietnam. Every single one of them.

A House of Cards

The Bush Administration is nothing more than a house of cards.

As I've beens saying for a very long time, Bush can't win on the issues because neither he, nor his agenda is broadly popular.

When he actually ran on his agenda, he lost. It wasn't until he had the ability to manipulate America's fears that he won an election.

A graph says a thousand words.

Now, finally, the adoring press is starting to actually write about it.

From today's NYTs
Five months after President Bush was sworn in for another four years, his political authority appears to be ebbing, both within his own party, where members of Congress are increasingly if sporadically going their own way, and among Democrats, who have discovered that they pay little or no price for defying him.

In some cases, Mr. Bush is suffering mere political dings that can be patched up, like the votes by the House this past week to buck him on withholding dues to the United Nations and retaining a controversial provision of the USA Patriot Act.

In others, the damage is more than cosmetic, as in the case of stem cell research, an issue on which a good portion of his party is breaking with him. In a few instances - most notably the centerpiece of his second-term agenda, his call to reshape Social Security - he is dangerously close to a fiery wreck that could have lasting consequences for his standing and for the Republican Party.

....

"The political capital he thought he had has dwindled to very little, and he overstated how much he had to begin with," said Allan J. Lichtman, a presidential historian at American University in Washington.

"Congress is like Wall Street - it operates on fear and greed," Mr. Lichtman said. "The Democrats don't fear him anymore, and they're getting greedy, because they think they can beat him. The attitude you see among Republicans in Congress is, my lifeboat first."
Bush is crippled. All the talk post election about Bush's advisors being political visionaries was just a bunch of BS. Visionaries wouldn't have laid out the agenda he's been pushing since the election. They're just old fashioned fear mongers and there is nothing visionary about that.

If you need further evidence that Bush is a lame duck, look how the Bolton nomination is going.

The only question in my mind? So what are we going to do about it?

This is the perfect time to lay out our agenda and beat them to death. Will we do it?

I'm not holding my breath.

The Real GOP Social Security Agenda?

Ending Social Security.

Steve Soto at TPMCafe picked up on a WaPo story on Saturday reporting a new GOP plan. Take all the Trust Fund surplus now accumulating and divert it to private accounts.

So let's recap.

First: The Trust Fund will soon be broke and no one will receive benefits so we need to have private accounts.

Second: there is no Trust Fund, and the Full Faith and Credit of the United States is only a worthless IOU.

Current: Okay, there is a Trust Fund that we want to take and give to every American in the form of a private account that our friends on Wall Street will manage, for a fee, of course.

The one constant? End Social Security. The rest are just details.

This is your GOP

More on Bolton

War and Piece has up an interesting post, citing a WaPo article on how much progress is being made with important foreign policy objectives once Bolton is removed from a job.

Read this and you will see why Bolton needs to spy on his own country. And remember, it was Bolton who accused Cuba of WMD.

After reading this, you may wonder who exactly is Bolton's constituency. I do.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Durbin

Take the Poll.

UPDATE: The poll has now been taken down by the paper.

Where Have You Gone Jack Danforth?

As a kid, I always liked Senator Danforth. I really don't know why, other than I thought him smart and reasonable. I was disappointed at his stance with Clarence Thomas but have decided he deserves the benefit of the doubt on that one.

One reason I have decided to give him break on Thomas is this OP/ED in today's NYTs.
People of faith have the right, and perhaps the obligation, to bring their values to bear in politics. Many conservative Christians approach politics with a certainty that they know God's truth, and that they can advance the kingdom of God through governmental action. So they have developed a political agenda that they believe advances God's kingdom, one that includes efforts to "put God back" into the public square and to pass a constitutional amendment intended to protect marriage from the perceived threat of homosexuality.

Moderate Christians are less certain about when and how our beliefs can be translated into statutory form, not because of a lack of faith in God but because of a healthy acknowledgement of the limitations of human beings. Like conservative Christians, we attend church, read the Bible and say our prayers.

But for us, the only absolute standard of behavior is the commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves. Repeatedly in the Gospels, we find that the Love Commandment takes precedence when it conflicts with laws. We struggle to follow that commandment as we face the realities of everyday living, and we do not agree that our responsibility to live as Christians can be codified by legislators.

When, on television, we see a person in a persistent vegetative state, one who will never recover, we believe that allowing the natural and merciful end to her ordeal is more loving than imposing government power to keep her hooked up to a feeding tube.

When we see an opportunity to save our neighbors' lives through stem cell research, we believe that it is our duty to pursue that research, and to oppose legislation that would impede us from doing so.

We think that efforts to haul references of God into the public square, into schools and courthouses, are far more apt to divide Americans than to advance faith.

Following a Lord who reached out in compassion to all human beings, we oppose amending the Constitution in a way that would humiliate homosexuals.

For us, living the Love Commandment may be at odds with efforts to encapsulate Christianity in a political agenda. We strongly support the separation of church and state, both because that principle is essential to holding together a diverse country, and because the policies of the state always fall short of the demands of faith.
Senator Danforth, an ordained Episcopal Priest, seems to understand Christianity as I always had.

Here is a previous OP/ED by Jack.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Stick a Fork in Him, Bolton is Done

It appears that Bolton will never be confirmed as UN Ambassador. The Rs are losing supporters for clouture, as opposed to gaining them, and the WH still refuses to release the info requested by the Dems.

And although I've mentioned this before, it bears repeating, because press reports are not clear. Bolton was using his office as Undersecretary of State to spy on his own country, and presumably those he thought were his rivals in the administration.

Bolton requested, apparently several times, what the media euphemistically calls "intercepts" by the NSA of different Government officials. These "intercepts" are surreptitious recordings collected by the NSA using Echelon of all electronic forms of communication. Bolton wanted to know what our spies had on his rivals. Needless to say, this is some of the most sensitive information in the possession of the US Gov't.

Several issues are raised by Bolton's requests that could be embarrassing to the Bushies. For instance, just how much spy info does the US collect on it's own people and what kind of checks exists on the release of this info? Just how easy is it for a State Dept official to gain access to highly sensitive info gathered by spies on his or her rivals? Was this info just given to Bolton for the asking? Didn't anyone question his need for this info?

The Dems are correct to want some answers, although I can't imagine they will ever get them.

Friday, June 10, 2005

The Increasingly Unpopular President

Daniel Fromkin in today's WaPo

Link
When is it time to start referring to Bush as an unpopular president? When his approval ratings are solidly below 50 percent for at least three months? Check. When his approval ratings on his signature issues are in the red? Check. When a clear majority of Americans say he is ignoring the public's concerns and instead has become distracted by issues that most people say they care little about? Check.

George Bush: Power Bottom!

Link
ED Klein's new hatchet-job book on Sen. Hillary Clinton says she was heavily influenced by the "culture of lesbianism" at her alma mater, Wellesley College — but a classmate of the former first lady tells us there was no such thing.

"The Truth About Hillary," to be published by Penguin's right-wing Sentinel imprint this month, makes much of Clinton's supposed lesbian affinities. Klein says that she "embraced" lesbianism and that it "shaped" her politics in a profound way.

Klein also makes much of Clinton's friendship with Nancy Wanderer, a classmate who came out of the closet. He recounts an episode at their 25th reunion when Clinton — who, Klein says, was "widely rumored" to be a lesbian herself — fondled Wanderer's buzz-cut hair.
And of course by Klein's standards, as Atrios points out (Citing NYMary) , G-dub would be a power bottom!

As for Sen Clinton, she is up for re-election to the senate next year, and given that she is expected to make a run for Pres (and with her recent poll numbers), this will mark tbeginninging of some of the ugliest campaigning in the this nations history.

The passion with which the right hates Hillary is astounding, and they do not see how ugly they get.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Kerry's Military Records

You may have read in the last few days that Kerry finally signed Form 180 to allow the complete disclosure of his military records. Turns out Kerry received numerous very glowing commendations with some from officers who later criticized his military service.

That he did not release this information last August is probably why is not now President. The only thing that I can think of to explain Kerry's refusal to release the full file is principle. The campaign should not be about what he did 35 years ago, giving in to these kinds of demands for more and more info from the distant past only encourages further digging, and scandal mongering, yada, yada, yada.

I could write a good deal about what I think about Kerry's position (that resoundingly silencing the SB Liars imunizes you from further digs into your distant past) but it would really be pointless now.

I like the CJR view of this story so I'm suggesting you go read it.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

It's Called Fraud...

....and fraud is a crime. I'm guessing this crime, however, will go uninvestigated and won't be pursued by the press.

Link
A White House official who once led the oil industry's fight against limits on greenhouse gases has repeatedly edited government climate reports in ways that play down links between such emissions and global warming, according to internal documents.

In handwritten notes on drafts of several reports issued in 2002 and 2003, the official, Philip A. Cooney, removed or adjusted descriptions of climate research that government scientists and their supervisors, including some senior Bush administration officials, had already approved. In many cases, the changes appeared in the final reports.

The dozens of changes, while sometimes as subtle as the insertion of the phrase "significant and fundamental" before the word "uncertainties," tend to produce an air of doubt about findings that most climate experts say are robust.

Mr. Cooney is chief of staff for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the office that helps devise and promote administration policies on environmental issues.
And aside from the health and safety issues, there is significant taxpayer money involved.

Rick Piltz resigned in March from the government Climate Change Science Program. Piltz says that political altering of the science data threatens a $1.8 BILLION dollar a year government effort to determine the consequences of greenhouse gas emissions. ie fraud.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

It's Like Living Under the Ayatollahs in Iran

Sentanced to 40 years!

Go Read Kevin at Wa Monthly to learn what I'm talking about.

Finally! A Dem with some Balls!

How ironic.

Read below and guess what Dem leader said these things yesterday?
[the Democratic] party is hamstrung because Republicans dissemble and smear without shame and the news media has lost its investigatory zeal for exposing misdeeds.

Left unchallenged, especially if Democrats fail to pick up seats in next year's Congressional elections, ...Republican leaders could ram through extremist conservative judges, wreck Social Security and make unacceptable concessions to China, Saudi Arabia and other nations that are needed to finance the United States budget deficit.

"There has never been an administration, I don't believe in our history, more intent upon consolidating and abusing power to further their own agenda,"
you have GOT to read the whole thing. I felt like it could have been me saying these things. Can you figure out who the speaker is? There's is much more.
"I know it's frustrating for many of you; it's frustrating for me: Why can't the Democrats do more to stop them?" [the speaker] continued to growing applause and cheers. "I can tell you this: It's very hard to stop people who have no shame about what they're doing. It is very hard to tell people that they are making decisions that will undermine our checks and balances and constitutional system of government who don't care. It is very hard to stop people who have never been acquainted with the truth."

[The speaker]described Republican leaders as messianic in their beliefs, willing to manipulate facts and even "destroy" the Senate to gain political advantage over the Democratic minority. [The speaker]labeled the House of Representatives as "a dictatorship of the Republican leadership," where individual members are all but required to vote in lock-step with the majority's agenda.
And where is the press in all this?
"The press is missing in action, with all due respect,....Where are the investigative reporters today? Why aren't they asking the hard questions? It's shocking when you see how easily they fold in the media today. They don't stand their ground. If they're criticized by the White House, they just fall apart.

"I mean, c'mon, toughen up, guys, it's only our Constitution and country at stake," .... "Let's get some spine."

Suggesting some lines of reporting,...the Bush administration could not account for $9 billion in Coalition Authority spending in Iraq, and that the Food and Drug Administration had allowed religious and political bias to interfere with science-driven decision-making on reproductive drugs.
Now, go read the whole thing.

Why aren't all of our leaders giving these speeches? As the poll below, and countless others this year, have shown these folks are not popular and neither is their agenda.

It is more than past the time that the Ds stake out their own agenda, and fight!

I think what I wrote following the election is still appropriate.

Post-ABC Poll: Bush Ignoring Public Concerns

From today's WaPo
A clear majority of Americans say President Bush is ignoring the public's concerns and instead has become distracted by issues that most people say they care little about, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The survey found that 58 percent of those interviewed said Bush is concentrating mainly in his second term on problems and partisan squabbles that these respondents said were unimportant to them. Four in 10 -- 41 percent -- said the president was focused on important problems -- a double-digit drop from three years ago.
So when do the Homeland Security Threat levels start to rise again?

More Reasons to Dump Bolton

Steve Clemons at The Washington Note has a great post up on the latest issue with Bolton.

As you know, the Ds want released to them all the info pertaining to requests Bolton made for NSA intercepts while Under Sec of State. Clemons has leaned that at least one of these intercepts was of his collegue, Asst Sec of State Bill Burns who was working on the Libya matter of them swearing off all WMD for ever.

Bolton, at the request of the British, had been removed from the US Libya team, because the Brits thought he was an unstable kook who was screwing up the negotiations.

So why does it matter that Bolton, after having been removed from Team Libya, would seek telephone intercepts? Here is what Steve says,
This shows a couple of things about Bolton that further underscore his vanity and irresponsibility when it comes to national security issues.

First, Bolton was NOT on a need-to-know basis in the Libya case. He had been removed from that portfolio.

Second, this shows that Bolton was in fact spying on his colleagues and their work. In this case, Bill Burns was his target.

The Bolton Battle is getting ready to rev up again -- and this news on Bolton, Burns and Libya may turn a number of other U.S. Senators against his nomination.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Peggy Noonan: Kook!

Josh points to Peggy Noonan's opinion piece in today's WSJ.

You have to read it to believe it.

In case you didn't know -- I didn't-- Deep Throat bears responsibility for the Killing Fields in Cambodia.

OpinionJournal - Peggy Noonan
The Washington Post said yesterday that Mr. Felt's information allowed them to continue their probe. That probe brought down a president. Ben Stein is angry but not incorrect: What Mr. Felt helped produce was a weakened president who was a serious president at a serious time. Nixon's ruin led to a cascade of catastrophic events--the crude and humiliating abandonment of Vietnam and the Vietnamese, the rise of a monster named Pol Pot, and millions--millions--killed in his genocide. America lost confidence; the Soviet Union gained brazenness. What a terrible time. Is it terrible when an American president lies and surrounds himself by dirty tricksters? Yes, it is. How about the butchering of children in the South China Sea. Is that worse? Yes. Infinitely, unforgettably and forever.

Social Security Surplus

In talking with people about the Social Security surplus it is obvious that folks have no idea the size of the SS surplus.

You cannot talk about any solution without an understanding of this surplus, because this money is taken from working Americans every year and used to fund tax cuts for the very wealthy.

For all G-dub's hot air about worthless IOUs, this is the cash he continues to collect every year from the pay checks of working Americans with no intention of ever paying any of it back.

To not honor the SS trust fund would amount to the largest theft in world history.

Go here and scroll down to table S-8.

The surplus for Fiscal 2005 is 212.4 BILLION dollars. Fiscal 2006 is 225.6 BILLION dollars, 2007 is 237 BILLION dollars, 2008 is 247.2 BILLION dollars, 2009 is 258.4 BILLION dollars and for 2010 273 BILLION dollars.

Note that the surplus grows even as SS outlays also grow. That reflects growth in the labor force as well as wages.

In the next 5 years more than 1.4 TRILLION dollars will be taken from working Americans in excess FICA taxes (intended per Alan Greenspan in 1983 to fund the babyboomer retirement)and used to purchase what G-dub describes as worthless IOUs.

The President says American will honor it's debt to China, but not working Americans. Why does he get a free pass on this?

And given the size of the current surplus why would any sane person suggest increasing the payroll tax to increase the surplus when those in charge-- all the while taking a trillion dollars--refuse to admit the trust fund is real?