Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Petition filing could halt S. Dakota abortion ban

Overturning the ban has bipartisan support in a conservative state. This is an issue Ds should embrace nationally. Educating voters on the extreme views of the GOP on abortion and those that support those views is a winning issue for Ds.

From Reuters,
The South Dakota measure is considered one of the most restrictive in the United States. It bans nearly all abortions, even when pregnancies result from incest or rape. The law says that if a woman's life is in jeopardy, doctors must try to save the fetus as well as the woman. Doctors who perform an abortion could receive a $5,000 fine and five years in prison.

About 1,200 volunteers circulated copies of the petition around the state, and the coalition said it had signatures from all 66 counties in South Dakota. Thousands of Democrats and Republicans alike signed onto the petition, which calls on the state to allow voters to decide the issue.

"The people of South Dakota ... do not support this extreme ban," said Jan Nicolay, a former Republican state representative and co-chair of the South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families.
Ds should be hanging this albatross around every GOP neck.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day


Take a moment today to reflect on all those who have died for liberty that we now seem to find so dispensable and inconvenient. Think about how cowardly it is that at the fist sign of trouble some of us are so will to dismiss what these people died to protect.

Friday, May 26, 2006

War Crimes

This is an horrific tragedy. Tragic for the innocent lives lost in the massacre and tragic for the once innocent young men when sent to Iraq who became capable of this.

Rummy worked hard to cover this up.

Go read Digby for the details.

Just 2 Regrets?

Interesting that in last night's "news" conference, neither Bush nor Blair mentioned that one of their regrets was that the WMDs were never found or for that matter even existed. Looks to me like they both still can't admit the whole premise for invading Iraq was a lie. Why doesn't they so called liberal press continue to press them for the truth?

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Guilty!

Enron CEOs guilty:
HOUSTON (Reuters) - Former Enron chief executives Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling were found guilty of fraud and conspiracy on Thursday for their part in the financial scandal that drove the power trading giant into bankruptcy.
UPDATE:
Lay was convicted of all six counts of conspiracy and fraud and faces a maximum of 45 years in prison.

Skilling was found guilty of 19 counts of conspiracy, fraud, insider trading and making false statements which, combined, carry a maximum sentence of 185 years. He was not convicted on nine criminal counts.

In a separate trial for Lay, Judge Lake found Lay guilty of all four bank fraud charges for illegally using money from $75 million in personal loans to buy stock.

Each of those four charges carries a maximum of 30 years, but experts say he is unlikely to get a sentence more than six months for each because he paid off the loans and the lenders suffered no economic damage.

Skilling will remain free on a $5 million bond, while Lake said Lay must post a $5 million bond and give up his passport to stay out of jail until sentencing, set for September 11.

"I'm not going to let him leave this building until his passport is surrendered," Lake said.

It All Comes Back Cheney

This morning's WaPo updates us on Plame,
Vice President Cheney was personally angered by a former U.S. ambassador's newspaper column attacking a key rationale for the war in Iraq and repeatedly directed I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, then his chief of staff, to "get all the facts out" related to the critique, according to excerpts from Libby's 2004 grand jury testimony released late yesterday by Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald.

Libby also told the grand jury that Cheney raised as an issue that the former ambassador's wife worked at the CIA and that she allegedly played a role in sending him to investigate the Iraqi government's interest in acquiring nuclear weapons materials. That issue formed the basis of former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV's published critique.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Hastert Under FBI Investigation?

ABC News say he is.

Reuters says he's not.

I could go either way.

Hoax Confirmed by Anti-Defamation League

You may have heard the story. Allegedly Iran was going to make religious minorities wear special insignias. I didn't mentioned it because it had been determined to be a hoax by the time I learned of it.

Well, now the Anti-Defamation League has confirmed the hoax which should put it to rest.

'Yellow' Journalism -- Anatomy of a Hoax

Too Funny To Believe

You can't make this stuff up.

Tom DeLay is upset over the movie, “The Big Buy: Tom DeLay'’s Stolen Congress,by 'Outfoxed'” creator Robert Greenwald.

So this morning Tom's legal defense fund sent out an email to suporters with this headline:

Hollywood Pulls Michael Moore Antics on Tom DeLay
Colbert Cracks the Story on Real Motivations Behind the Movie


Think Progress has the story.

Pelosi Calls on Jefferson to Resign From Ways & Means Committee

Better late than never, I guess. She should call on him to resign from the House.

Via Think Progress.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Fascism




This is creepy beyond words.

Go read digby.

This is what we are up against and I feel like no one on our side is doing anything to prepare to counter this crap.

We need to be shining a light on this kind of stuff.

This Stinks

My guess is that the VA employee is in on this identity theft. Too much info taken and nothing else.

From today's WaPo,
....According to a police report, someone pried open a window to the employee's home between 10:30 a.m. and 4:45 p.m. on May 3. The burglar or burglars took a laptop, an external drive and some coins. The theft was reported that day to Montgomery County police, according to the report.
No other electronics, no jewelry, nothing but the data and 'some coins'. This 'burglary' was a set-up to pass this large amount of data.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Jefferson has got to go!

The case of Congressman William Jefferson is, in a nutshell, the Ds problem -- a complete lack of leadership!

From the AP,
A congressman under investigation for bribery was caught on videotape accepting $100,000 in $100 bills from an FBI informant whose conversations with the lawmaker also were recorded, according to a court document released Sunday. Agents later found the cash hidden in his freezer.

At one audiotaped meeting, Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., chuckles about writing in code to keep secret what the government contends was his corrupt role in getting his children a cut of a communications company's deal for work in Africa.
How can a party run against corruption when they refuse to take any action against their own?

The Democratic leadership may not be able to force him out, but they certainly should be publically demanding his resignation.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Dislike of Gdub personal for most Americans


Evidently, Karl Rove didn't get the memo.

From the KR Washington Bureau:

WASHINGTON - It's not just the way he's doing his job. Americans apparently don't like President Bush personally much anymore, either.

A drop in his personal popularity, as measured by several public polls, has shadowed the decline in Bush's job-approval ratings and weakened his political armor when he and his party need it most.
______

"When he loses likeability, the president loses the benefit of the doubt," said Dennis Goldford, a political scientist at Drake University in Iowa. "That makes it much harder for him to steer."

The idiots were in charge

The NYTs has a sweeping article on DoD planning for the Iraqi police that would be hilarious if it weren't so tragic. The bungling started at the beginning and continues to the present.

Here's a taste,

As chaos swept Iraq after the American invasion in 2003, the Pentagon began its effort to rebuild the Iraqi police with a mere dozen advisers. Overmatched from the start, one was sent to train a 4,000-officer unit to guard power plants and other utilities. A second to advise 500 commanders in Baghdad. Another to organize a border patrol for the entire country.

Three years later, the police are a battered and dysfunctional force that has helped bring Iraq to the brink of civil war. Police units stand accused of operating death squads for powerful political groups or simple profit. Citizens, deeply distrustful of the force, are setting up their own neighborhood security squads. Killings of police officers are rampant, with at least 547 slain this year, roughly as many as Iraqi and American soldiers combined, records show.

The police, initially envisioned by the Bush administration as a cornerstone in a new democracy, have instead become part of Iraq's grim constellation of shadowy commandos, ruthless political militias and other armed groups. Iraq's new prime minister and senior American officials now say that the country's future — and the ability of America to withdraw its troops — rests in large measure on whether the police can be reformed and rogue groups reined in.

Like so much that has defined the course of the war, the realities on the ground in Iraq did not match the planning in Washington. An examination of the American effort to train a police force in Iraq, drawn from interviews with several dozen American and Iraqi officials, internal police reports and visits to Iraqi police stations and training camps, reveals a cascading series of misjudgments by White House and Pentagon officials, who repeatedly underestimated the role the United States would need to play in rebuilding the police and generally maintaining order.

Feds buy commercially available data?

So says BusinessWeek,
The Departments of Justice, State, and Homeland Security spend millions annually to buy commercial databases that track Americans' finances, phone numbers, and biographical information, according to a report last month by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress. Often, the agencies and their contractors don't ensure the data's accuracy, the GAO found.

Buying commercially collected data allows the government to dodge certain privacy rules....

"Grabbing data wholesale from the private sector is the way agencies are getting around the requirements of the Privacy Act and the Fourth Amendment," says Jim Harper, director of information policy studies at the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington and a member of the Homeland Security Dept.'s Data Privacy & Integrity Advisory Committee.

The Justice Dept. alone, which includes the FBI, spent $19 million in fiscal 2005 to obtain commercially gathered names, addresses, phone numbers, and other data, according to the GAO. The Justice Dept. obeys the Privacy Act and "protects information that might personally identify an individual," a spokesman says. Despite the GAO's findings, a Homeland Security spokesman denies that his agency purchases consumer records from private companies. The State Dept. didn't respond to requests for comment.

The Missouri Public Service Commission

wants to know exactly what information AT&T has turned over to the federal government.

From today'sSt Louis Post-Dispatch,
They asked what legal authority the phone company has to share records with the
government, what kind of consumer records are involved, and whether the company is giving the government names, addresses, calling patterns, Social Security numbers or billing, credit card or e-mail records.

In response, they got a two-paragraph response from Alfred G. Richter Jr., senior vice president and general counsel at AT&T corporate headquarters in San Antonio.

He wrote:

"While there has been much speculation in the news media, I want to make it clear that AT&T Missouri does not give customer information to law enforcement authorities or government agencies without legal authorization."

He said the company has an obligation to assist law enforcement and other agencies. "At the same time, we prize the trust our customers place in us."

Richter also stated: "If and when AT&T Missouri is asked by a governmental agency for assistance, we do so strictly within the law. Beyond that, AT&T
Missouri cannot comment on matters of national security. As a national security issue, it must be addressed on a national basis."
That's Certainly not a denial.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Another Proud Day for America

Reuters:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Ten Guantanamo detainees laid a trap for U.S. guards by luring them into a room with a staged suicide attempt, then attacked them with improvised weapons before being overpowered after an intense fight, U.S. leaders at the detention camp said on Friday.

U.S. officials described the incident on Thursday as probably the most intense outbreak of violence at the jail for foreign terrorism suspects at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, since it opened in January 2002.

Fascism

Kevin Drum points us to,

“Fairy Tales” (Harpers.org)

...The field reports, known as “Aardwolfs,” were angrily rejected by the White House. Their author—who I'm told was a highly regarded agency veteran named Gerry Meyer—was soon pushed out of the CIA, in part because his reporting angered the See No Evil crowd within the Bush administration.

....In 2004 Meyer was replaced with a new CIA station chief in Baghdad, who that year filed six Aardwolfs, which, sources told me, were collectively as pessimistic about the situation in Iraq as the ones sent by his predecessor. The station chief finished his assignment in December 2004; he was not fired, but according to one source is now “a pariah within the system.” Three other former intelligence officials gave me virtually identical accounts, with one saying the ex–station chief was “treated like shit” and “farmed out.”

....As has been the case with other people deemed to be insufficiently loyal, the White House went fishing for dirt on the two station chiefs, including information on their political affiliations. “I spent 30 years at the CIA,” said one former official, “and no one was ever interested in knowing whether I was a Republican or a Democrat. That changed with this administration. Now you have loyalty tests.”

So much for Democracy in Egypt

Murbarak sends his rival, Nour, off to prison on bogus charges while his goones attack Nour's supporters.

From the WaPo,
Nour was convicted in December of forging documents needed to legalize his Tomorrow Party, even though a government commission had approved the papers in October 2004 and a witness at his trial said he was tortured into testifying against Nour. The case attracted criticism from human rights groups as being politically motivated, and the State Department made the case a test of Mubarak's commitment to democracy.

Egyptian police and prosecutors have recently launched an offensive against democracy activists on several fronts. At the same time a judge heard Nour's request for a retrial Thursday, a judicial committee reprimanded Judge Hesham Bastawisi for denouncing vote-rigging during elections last year but acquitted a less outspoken but nonetheless critical magistrate, Mahmoud Mekky.

Thousands of riot police in body armor and helmets sealed off parts of central Cairo to keep demonstrators from congregating near the courthouse where the hearings for Nour and the judges took place. At a nearby market, police pursued, clubbed and beat demonstrators gathered to support the judges....
_____

"The charade is over," said Samer S. Shehata, a professor of contemporary Arab studies at Georgetown University who is researching elections in Egypt. "Egypt is going back to an earlier period of repression."

"Political reform is dead," remarked Joshua Stracher, a researcher from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.

Iraqis are fleeing the country

No doubt because all CNN will talk about are the bombings. If they only knew about that new dental office in Karbala,....

From the NYT,
Deaths run like water through the life of the Bahjat family. Four neighbors. A barber. Three grocers. Two men who ran a currency exchange shop.

But when six armed men stormed into their sons' primary school this month, shot a guard dead, and left fliers ordering it to close, Assad Bahjat knew it was time to leave.

"The main thing now is to just get out of Iraq," said Mr. Bahjat, standing in a room heaped with suitcases and bedroom furniture in eastern Baghdad.

In the latest indication of the crushing hardships weighing on the lives of Iraqis, increasing portions of the middle class seem to be doing everything they can to leave the country. In the last 10 months, the state has issued new passports to 1.85 million Iraqis, 7 percent of the population and a quarter of the country's estimated middle class.

Hayden Get's in a Couple Smackdowns

From Slate,

Hayden did take a few swipes during his testimony. "You get a lot more authority when the workforce doesn't think it's amateur hour on the top floor," he said in not-so-veiled reference to since-disappeared CIA chief Porter Goss.

Hayden saved his biggest smackdown for one-time top Pentagon official Douglas Feith, whose office cherry-picked raw intel and insisted on a "strong connection" between Saddam and al-Qaida. "I've got three great kids," said Hayden. "But if you tell me, 'Go out and find all the bad things they've done, Hayden,' I could build you a pretty good dossier and you'd think they were pretty bad people. That'd be very wrong, OK?" (Feith was once given a memorable if less-than-affectionate nickname of sorts by top Gen. Tommy Franks.)

I thought 9/11 changed everything?

Turns out, only when it comes to our right to liberty.

From ABC's The Blotter,
"Right now we cannot protect the public," says Frank Terreri, an active duty air marshal who represents a group of 1,500 air marshals. "And not because we're not proficient, not that we're not capable, it's because federal air marshal management, along with the Department of Homeland Security, won't let us do our jobs."

Terreri says air marshals are not able to work undercover because check-in and boarding procedures at airports make it impossible for air marshals to maintain their anonymity.
_____

Terreri has spent three years trying to get the air marshals management to address these issues with no response. Instead he says they've retaliated against him, with four separate investigations, including one for misuse of his business card.

"The items that he was being accused of were so surreal that they were obviously intending to terrorize the other air marshals into silence," says Tom Devine, an attorney with the Government Accountability Project. The project has petitioned the U.S. Office of Special Counsel to open an investigation into Terreri's allegations.

The House Judiciary Committee is expected to release a critical investigation of the air marshal service next week. Committee Chairman Rep. James Sensenbrenner says the air marshals lack of anonymity violates federal law. He hopes the Federal Air Marshal Service Agency will "at least be a little bit more compliant with the law and whistleblowers, rather than trying to shut them up," citing the case of Frank Terreri as one of several examples.
Where's is the WH on this?

Hayden admits to viiolating FISA

In confirmation hearings yesterday, Hayden admitted that he knew the NSA spying was violating the law and the jist of is testimony is that no one really cared.

Glenn has the story. Here's a taste,
In his confirmation hearing yesterday, Gen. Hayden... all but acknowledged that when President Bush ordered the NSA to engage in warrantless eavesdropping on Americans, the administration did not, at that time, rely upon any purported claim that Congress had authorized the President to engage in warrantless eavesdropping via its authorization to use military force against Al Qaeda. That legal theory justifying violations of FISA only came much later. The sole justification the administration had when the President ordered warrantless eavesdropping was its claim that the president has "inherent authority" to violate the law.
Glenn has a complete run-down.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Lie Lives On ... and On ... and On

Atrios points us to Larry Beinhart:The Lie Lives On ... and On ... You should read it.

Larry concludes,
It is an insult to our intelligence. It shows contempt, absolute contempt for the senate and the media. It shows that he is right to have that contempt. Since no one called him out on it. No one said it was a ridiculous and foolish assertion. Unsupported by the facts. Indeed, the facts point in the other direction.

It was secrecy that did us in. We had the information. It was incompetence that did us in. Including General Hayden's own.

Frightening

The Bush admin is in total meltdown and it is impossible to estimate how ugly this meltdown will get.

Go read Glenn Greenwald: Escalating the rhetoric.

These people are as creepy as anything I've ever encountered, and are truly hostile to democracy. What they advocate is fascism, pure and simple.

If you doubt me, try to imagine them respecting any future elections that do not go their way? Recall the anti-Clinton hysteria and now imagine what 2008 might be like with a D as president.

It's important to shine a light on this and call these people out. They are the enemies of liberty very dangerous to our way of life.

Glenn concludes,
I can't think of a single prominent Democratic political figure (perhaps other than Joe Lieberman) who hasn't been routinely accused of being a traitor and at whom threats of imprisonment haven't been launched by certain Bush followers around the blogosphere. News that journalists are being investigated, and even calls for the imprisonment of journalists, are now so routine that they hardly attract notice any longer. And anyone who reveals information that reflects poorly on the administration -- including life-long military veterans and pro-military Congressmen -- is an anti-American traitor who is tantamount to a criminal.

The Bush administration and many of its followers are coming increasingly to see hostile journalists and various political opponents as traitors and criminals, and their escalating rhetoric includes what are now routine calls for the investigation and punishment of those who politically harm the administration.

Let's Talk to Iran--A Growing Chorus!

Liberal Pinkos who think we should actually talk to Iran.

Of course, such talks may avert war, and how much fun would that be?

What Did I Tell You?

NYTs,
The quick fix may involve sending in the National Guard. But to really patch up the broken border, President Bush is preparing to turn to a familiar administration partner: the nation's giant military contractors.

Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman, three of the largest, are among the companies that said they would submit bids within two weeks for a multibillion-dollar federal contract to build what the administration calls a "virtual fence" along the nation's land borders.
As Josh notes, "Even on the downward side of the mountain, all the cronies get a taste."

Pretty much sums it up.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

At Last!

After 15 weeks of trial,
HOUSTON (Reuters) - Jurors began deliberating on Wednesday in the trial of former Enron CEOs Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling, who face decades in prison if convicted of fraud and conspiracy in the energy giant's spectacular collapse into bankruptcy and Wall Street scandal.
It's anyone's guess how long the jury will be out. 15 weeks of testimony is a lot to go through,....

Excuse me, did you say a judge in Georgia?

Same-Sex Marriage Amendment Is Struck Down by Georgia Judge.

If the wingnuts are having a hard time with this in Georgia, what does that say about the rest of the country?

Dramatic social change cannot be forced onto the American people legislatively. And same-sex marriage is about as dramatic as social change can get. This is a very difficult issue that needs time to soak in on folks. When people have time to think about it, and really hear the pros, they tend to soften from initial reactions of 'no way, never'. But, if advocates try to legislatively force the issue they will set their cause back years.

Elected Dems cannot be a party to prematurely forcing this issue on the public. To do so will not only harm the pro-movement, but set the party back for years to come playing into the hands of the wingnuts who have nothing to offer but hate and fear.

What elected Dems must do is resist these amendments to give advocates time to educate the public and let them warm to the issue.

American people think GOP sucks

So says The Washington Post - ABC NEWS POLL

Non-news on Immigration from the WaPo

Imagration proposals including a chance for citizenship barely survived the Senate to will die a painful death in the House.

Thus, the non-news.

Orrin Hatch Confirms NSA Domestic Spying

Although the WH will 'neither confirm nor deny', Senator Hatch told a reporter that the program had been mentioned to a couple judges on the FISA court that didn't object as far as he knew,......not that there is a such a program, but if there was,.....

Think Progress has the story.

Investi-Gate

Kevin calls our attention to Zack Roth's advice to dems,
Democrats might wish they could avoid talking about their investigative plans. But if they do, the press and the GOP will raise the issue for them, and they'll frame it around the prospect of impeachment. So Democrats might as well meet the challenge head on, and spend the summer making their case. Of course we'll vigorously investigate the administration if we win, they should say. And we'll do so the same way previous Democratic Congresses have investigated GOP presidents: shoulder-to-shoulder with honest Republican lawmakers willing to put country before party. The fact that the current GOP leadership chose to abandon the great American tradition of bipartisan Congressional oversight is no reason Democrats have to follow suit. Instead, they should embrace that tradition, with the faith that if they do, the president will get the legacy he deserves.
The American people deserve nothing less than the truth and it wasn't that long ago that the Republicans shared this belief.

This is an easy topic to turn on the GOP, but then no one holds a candle to the Ds in missed opportunities. (think AWOL draft dodger swiftboating a decorated war hero).

Authorized to lie!

Think Progress:

Ordinarily, a company that conceals their transactions and activities from the public would violate securities law. But an executive order signed by the President on May 5 allows the Director of National Intelligence, John Negroponte, to authorize a company to conceal activities related to national security. (See 15 U.S.C. 78m(b)(3)(A))

There is no evidence that this executive order has been used by John Negroponte with respect to the telcos. Of course, if it was used, we wouldn'’t know about it.

How fortuitous the timing of this executive order.

Clearly, this admin will be working overtime to block and prevent any information being released by the telcos on their spying, including directing them to lie -- presumable even to courts of law.

Remember when we used to call this a cover-up? But of course, 9/11 changed everything.

What of the Teleco Denials?

Josh has a good rundown.

As Josh points out near the bottom, the most compelling evidence of the existence of the program --despite any self-serving, parsed denials -- is Qwest confirmation that they were asked to participate in the program and refused. Why would they make such a statement regarding a non-existent program?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Muckracker is on a roll!

TPMmuckraker:
On the occasion of President Bush's announcement he will post the National Guard along the southern U.S. border, CQ's Patrick Yoest finds this gem -- DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff pooh-poohing the idea less than six months earlier on the O'Reilly Factor. (click here to get the details).

What a Joke

TPMmuckraker takes us to the DHS briefing follow 'Georgie 29's speech:

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and a clutch of top officials gave a press briefing today on President Bush's new National Guard-infused border security program. Hilarity ensues:

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, if I've understood everything I've heard, you don't yet know what missions the 6,000 National Guardsmen will do, you don't know who is going to pay for them, you don't know what the rules of engagement will be for them, you don't know what size units there will be or how long -- whether they'll be two-week or six-month deployments, and you don't really know exactly which equipment they're going to have. So my question is, how long have you been working on this?

SECRETARY CHERTOFF: I guess that's what they call a loaded question. And I guess you haven't understood what we've said, so I'm going to try to make it really clear. . .

That's a nice strong opener for his response. But it's downhill from there:

SECRETARY CHERTOFF: [I]t is true that, sitting here right now, I do not have in my head every single mission set. . .

Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense Paul McHale jumps in to help:

ASSISTANT SECRETARY McHALE: . . . We don't know how many helicopters we're going to put up, but we know to a near certainty that we'll have helicopters. . . We don't know where we will place censors [sic] to detect illegal movement, but it's almost a certainty that we will have censors [sic]. . . We don't know how many barriers or roads we're going to build, but clearly, we will be putting new barriers in place, and clearly, we will be building new roads . . . So your question, sir, is a fair one.

The reporter tries again:

QUESTION: What I'm really trying to understand, is this a well-thought-out plan, or is it something that's just been --

ASSISTANT SECRETARY McHALE: Yes, sir, it is.

SECRETARY CHERTOFF: in quite exquisite detail. . .

GENERAL BLUM: This is clearly a well-thought-out plan[.]

Oh What a Difference A Year Makes

Mathew Gross:

Bush Budget Scraps 9,790 Border Patrol Agents... Feb. 9, 2005

But now we get to play army!

Specter Rolls Over

The Hill Reports that Specter has cut a deal on his ex post facto bill to give retroactive legal authority to the admin to use the NSA to spy on citizens.

Specter has mollified conservative opposition to his bill by agreeing to drop the requirement that the Bush administration seek a legal judgment on the program from a special court set up by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978.

Instead, Specter agreed to allow the administration to retain an important legal defense by allowing the court, which holds its hearings in secret, to review the program only by hearing a challenge from a plaintiff with legal standing, said a person familiar with the text of language agreed to by Specter and committee conservatives.

Conservative Republicans who pushed for the change say that it will help quell concerns about the measureÂ’s constitutionality and allow the White House to retain a basic legal defense.
_____

The agreement appears to pave the way for the committee to approve SpecterÂ’s bill and one sponsored by Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) granting the surveillance program legal authority.
Isn't it time that the Dems in the Senate started standing up to Georgie 29 and his minions in the Senate?

This NSA BS is a perfect matter to take a stand on and stop the Senate in protest.

Same goes for Constitutional amendments designed to create distractions. Call the public's attention to the 'stepping and fetching' Frist and Hastert are doing for Dobson and his crowd. They're about as popular as the Pres, and if not now, than when?

UPDATE: Glenn follows up.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Verizon stock takes hit on $50 billion lawsuit

Verizon stock takes hit on $50 billion lawsuit

At this point it appears that the only way we will really get to the bottom of this latest NSA spying matter is through the discovery process in civil lawsuits.

There will be many more. How long before the GOP demands that Congress take action,.........not to end the spying but to shield the companies from liability for breaking federal law.

Admin Using NSA on Political Enemies

At what point does the GOP stop making excuses and start wondering about impeachment? When does it occur to the rabid talk radio idiots that a Democratic admin could do the same to them?

ABC News: The Blotter
A senior federal law enforcement official tells ABC News the government is tracking the phone numbers we call in an effort to root out confidential sources.

"It's time for you to get some new cell phones, quick," the source told us in an in-person conversation.

ABC News does not know how the government determined who we are calling, or whether our phone records were provided to the government as part of the recently-disclosed NSA collection of domestic phone calls.

Other sources have told us that phone calls and contacts by reporters for ABC News, along with the New York Times and the Washington Post, are being examined as part of a widespread CIA leak investigation.
This assumes that no warrants were issued pursuant to a criminal investigation.

You know there is much more here. What about the last election?

(via TPM)

Trouble in Paradise?

Good times,....Conservative Christians are in revolt.
WASHINGTON, May 13 — Some of President Bush's most influential conservative Christian allies are becoming openly critical of the White House and Republicans in Congress, warning that they will withhold their support in the midterm elections unless Congress does more to oppose same-sex marriage, obscenity and abortion.

"There is a growing feeling among conservatives that the only way to cure the problem is for Republicans to lose the Congressional elections this fall," said Richard Viguerie, a conservative direct-mail pioneer.
_____

"I can't tell you how much anger there is at the Republican leadership," Mr. Viguerie said. "I have never seen anything like it."

In the last several weeks, Dr. James C. Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family and one of the most influential Christian conservatives, has publicly accused Republican leaders of betraying the social conservatives who helped elect them in 2004. He has also warned in private meetings with about a dozen of the top Republicans in Washington that he may turn critic this fall unless the party delivers on conservative goals.
After 2004 I really want to be very cautious, but am I the only one feeling a perfect storm building?

The fact is that the demographics of our changing nation don't work for the GOP so Rove has built this glass house of a coalition together and it's falling apart.

They want to maintain the biggot vote (their base) that they've always counted on and now there in open revolt. Their biggots hate the brown skinned Latinos who the Bushies also want, and swing voters have long since lost their stomach for the biggots, and the agenda of the conservative Christians.

Rove held this glass house together by peddling fear, and now it seems that tool has lost it's edge.

Negroponte Denied Domestic Call Monitoring...

WaPo,
When he was asked about the National Security Agency's controversial domestic surveillance program last Monday, U.S. intelligence chief John D. Negroponte objected to the question and said the government was "absolutely not" monitoring domestic calls without warrants.

"I wouldn't call it domestic spying," he told reporters. "This is about international terrorism and telephone calls between people thought to be working for international terrorism and people here in the United States."

Three days later, USA Today divulged details of the NSA's effort to log a majority of the telephone calls made within the United States since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks -- amassing the domestic call records of tens of millions of U.S. households and businesses in an attempt to sift them for clues about terrorist threats.
And although everyone seems to forget, as recently as a few weeks ago, the AG in testimony before Congress specifically denied any such program.

But don't worry, 'Congress was fully briefed'.

How much longer do Rs get to recite this meaningless line before someone points out to them the already publically known attempts to actually conceal this program from Congress.

'Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain'....

Why the Speech tonight and why it won't work

Glenn fills us in.

Conservatives debate Bush impeachment over immigration

I don't know where I stand on the immigration issue. Here is a collection of my thoughts:
  • It's hard to argue against legitimate attempts to seal the border.
  • Building a wall is not a legitimate attempt to seal the border -- it a legitimate attempt to transfer billions of tax dollars to a Republican donor.
  • A 'guest worker program' is a bad idea, for a lot of reasons (for instance, don't assume all workers will be Latinos).
  • Citizenship should be the goal of every immigrant.
  • A real solution to the illegal problem would start with enforcement of sever penalties for employing illegals -- many of whom are Republican donors,.....
  • For a lot of reasons, few politicians what real soultions -- they just want to pretend they do.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Yet Another Poll on NSA Spying

USA TODAY/Gallup Poll,
WASHINGTON — The majority of Americans disapprove of a massive Pentagon database containing the records of billions of phone calls made by ordinary citizens, according to a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll. About two-thirds are concerned that the program may signal other, not-yet-disclosed intelligence efforts directed at the general public.

Poll:NSA database reaction

The survey of 809 adults taken Friday and Saturday shows a nation that continues to wrestle with the balance between fighting terrorism and maintaining civil liberties.

By 51%-43%, those polled disapprove of the program, disclosed Thursday in USA TODAY. The National Security Agency has been collecting phone records from three of the nation's four largest telecommunication companies since soon after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Most who approve of the program say it violates some civil liberties but is acceptable because investigating terrorism "is the more important goal."

It's still too early to get a good feel for reaction but there is a lot in this poll that should give some direction to opponents of Gdub.

For instance, we must do much more to educate the public that these invasions of our privacy do not advance the fight on terror. We have to take this lie away from them and to do that requires a lengthy, concerted effort by every D from this time forward. We need talking points on the topic that come up with every media interview.

One final observation. It is interesting that fully two-thirds of the respondents felt that there was more yet to be disclosed spying on citizens. At this point, you'd have to be a fool to think that we now know everything there is to know about domestic spying.

The 'Straight Talk Express'


Takes a detour to Bullshit Town.

'Congress was fully briefed'

Can the President order summary execution of any American citizen so long as 'Congress was fully briefed'?

What a meaningless statement.

The Real Traitors

Once Again, Frank Rich says what others at the Times -- or anywhere else in the media -- will not.

Sadly, this must read OP-ED is behind the Time Select wall, but I will try to give you the flavor.

Will the Real Traitors Please Stand Up?
WHEN America panics, it goes hunting for scapegoats. But from Salem onward, we've more often than not ended up pillorying the innocent. Abe Rosenthal, the legendary Times editor who died last week, and his publisher, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, were denounced as treasonous in 1971 when they defied the Nixon administration to publish the Pentagon Papers, the secret government history of the Vietnam War. Today we know who the real traitors were: the officials who squandered American blood and treasure on an ill-considered war and then tried to cover up their lies and mistakes. It was precisely those lies and mistakes, of course, that were laid bare by the thousands of pages of classified Pentagon documents leaked to both The Times and The Washington Post.
_____

What really angers the White House and its defenders about both the Post and Times scoops are not the legal questions the stories raise about unregulated gulags and unconstitutional domestic snooping, but the unmasking of yet more administration failures in a war effort riddled with ineptitude. It's the recklessness at the top of our government, not the press's exposure of it, that has truly aided the enemy, put American lives at risk and potentially sabotaged national security. That's where the buck stops, and if there's to be a witch hunt for traitors, that's where it should begin.

_____

This being an election year, Karl Rove hopes the hearings can portray Bush opponents as soft on terrorism when they question any national security move. It was this bullying that led so many Democrats to rubber-stamp the Iraq war resolution in the 2002 election season and Mr. Goss's appointment in the autumn of 2004.

Will they fall into the same trap in 2006? Will they be so busy soliloquizing about civil liberties that they'll fail to investigate the nominee's record? It was under General Hayden, a self-styled electronic surveillance whiz, that the N.S.A. intercepted actual Qaeda messages on Sept. 10, 2001 — "Tomorrow is zero hour" for one — and failed to translate them until Sept. 12. That same fateful summer, General Hayden's N.S.A. also failed to recognize that "some of the terrorists had set up shop literally under its nose," as the national-security authority James Bamford wrote in The Washington Post in 2002....

If Democrats — and, for that matter, Republicans — let a president with a Nixonesque approval rating install yet another second-rate sycophant at yet another security agency, even one as diminished as the C.I.A., someone should charge those senators with treason, too.
That pretty much sums up my view.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Rove indictment 'imminent'?

Don't know, but Kevin Drum (who also doesn't know) points us to this,
Within the last week, Karl Rove told President Bush and Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten, as well as a few other high level administration officials, that he will be indicted in the CIA leak case and will immediately resign his White House job when the special counsel publicly announces the charges against him, according to sources.

Details of Rove's discussions with the president and Bolten have spread through the corridors of the White House where low-level staffers and senior officials were trying to determine how the indictment would impact an administration that has been mired in a number of high-profile political scandals for nearly a year, said a half-dozen White House aides and two senior officials who work at the Republican National Committee.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, sources confirmed Rove's indictment is imminent. These individuals requested anonymity saying they were not authorized to speak publicly about Rove's situation. A spokesman in the White House press office said they would not comment on "wildly speculative rumors."
This much I do know: no one testifies 5 times before a grand jury that the prosecutor doesn't really want to indict. 5 appearances also tells me Fitz has some misgivings.

Watch this space.

Newsweek Poll on Domestic Spying

Those of you who took the bait can relax. A Newsweek poll will restore your faith in the American public,....at least a little.

Kevin at The Washington Monthly will fill you in.

The number of Americans objecting will only grow as more information is disclosed.

Not Exactly a News Flash

CNN.com - Poll,

Respondents favored Clinton by greater than 2-to-1 margins when asked who did a better job at handling the economy (63 percent Clinton, 26 percent Bush) and solving the problems of ordinary Americans (62 percent Clinton, 25 percent Bush). (Watch whether Americans are getting nostalgic for the Clinton era -- 1:57)

On foreign affairs, the margin was 56 percent to 32 percent in Clinton's favor; on taxes, it was 51 percent to 35 percent for Clinton; and on handling natural disasters, it was 51 percent to 30 percent, also favoring Clinton.

Moreover, 59 percent said Bush has done more to divide the country, while only 27 percent said Clinton had.

Does this really surprise anyone?

The only reason I post this here is to make a point that seems lost these days on the left (The right too, but I don't want them to learn). Clinton is the only successful D president of my lifetime and I'm in my 40s!

AMERICANS CRAVE A CENTRIST!!!!!!!!

As predicted, it didn't take long

From today's NYTs,
Legal experts said the companies faced the prospect of lawsuits seeking billions of dollars in damages over cooperation in the program, citing communications privacy legislation stretching back to the 1930's. A federal lawsuit was filed in Manhattan yesterday seeking as much as $50 billion in civil damages against Verizon on behalf of its subscribers.
The Admin can stonewall Congress until the end of time, but they're not a party to this proceeding.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Q & A on Telco Liability

Think Progress:

A previous post laid out the reasons why the telcos appear to face enormous liability for handing stored phone records to the NSA. In sum, the Stored Communications Act (SCA) prohibits handing over the records, and it provides at least $1,000 in damages per customer for violations. For 50 million or more customers, that leads to big damages indeed.

This post responds to the legal questions and comments that we’ve seen so far. We still don’t see any decent legal defense against liability, and that may be why Qwest refused to go along with the NSA demands: Read On.

'Tip of the Iceberg'

Think Progress:
CongressDaily reports that former NSA staffer Russell Tice will testify to the Senate Armed Services Committee next week that not only do employees at the agency believe the activities they are being asked to perform are unlawful, but that what has been disclosed so far is only the tip of the iceberg. Tice will tell Congress that former NSA head Gen. Michael Hayden, Bush’s nominee to be the next CIA director, oversaw more illegal activity that has yet to be disclosed.
At this point, I don't think anything will shock me. My only question is when will Congress finally grow some and take real action. What will be their tipping point.

Reed Hundt Weighs in on NSA Spying

Reed is the former head of the FCC and understands very well the telecos.

Listen to Reed,
No one should imagine that what NSA has done, if reports are accurate, is normal behavior or standard procedure in the interaction between a private communications network and the government. In an authoritarian country without a bill of rights and with state ownership of the communications network, such eavesdropping by people and computers is assumed to exist. But in the United States it is assumed not to occur, except under very carefully defined circumstances that, according to reports, were not present as NSA allegedly arm-twisted telephone companies into compliance. That is a topic that can't be avoided in the general [Hayden's confirmation] hearing, if he gets that far.
"If he gets that far", indeed. My guess is that he will withdraw to 'spend more time with his family'.

WaPo Poll: Meaningless BS

The WaPo now has a poll up wherein they claim most Americans support the NSA spying on them.

What meaningless bullshit. This story only broke yesterday and 'most Americans' don't know anything about it.

Let's see what they say in a month when they've been educated on the topic a bit.

UPDATE: Glenn in 1200 plus words, share my view of the value of this poll.

Red Herring

Earlier, I pointed to the WaPo follow-up on yesterday's USATD story about Bush's domestic spying.

The WaPo quotes an anonymous source that seeks to justify their monitoring mine and your phone calls with a red herring the size of Delaware,
"Let's say lots comes in and we don't see anything interesting," said a source who helped develop the technology. "Tomorrow we find out someone is communicating with a known terrorist. When you go back and look at the past data, there may be information that you missed. A pattern that was meaningless suddenly makes sense."
Federal law has always allowed law enforcement to not only monitor numbers called, but record the content of calls, bug homes and businesses, etc. of "known terrorists". Some from St. Louis may recall that several years ago a murder of a young Palestinian girl living with her family here in Saint Louis was solved because the FBI had their house lawfully bugged and recorded the murder. Modification to laws since 9/11 were designed to make this even easier to do -- lawfully -- by the Federal Gov't.

They have no problems listening to and recording the conduct of "known terrorist" as well as everyone who has contact with said "known terrorist".

Make no mistake. This program has nothing to do with listening to "known terrorists" and everything to do with listening to you and me.

And if your naive enough to believe we now know all there is to know about this program, I have a bridge I'd like to sell you.

WaPo Chimes in on NSA Revelations

The WaPo this morning weighs in on yesterday's report of NSA spying on US citizens.

The story has the usual reports of outrage on Capital Hill without much info on any concrete response.

Specter has vowed to 'haul telephone companies before his committee' for testimony under oath on the program the WH won't talk about.

50 House Ds have signed a petition calling for a special prosecutor. How lame is that? Why hasn't every D and half the Rs signed that petition?

But most interesting to me was this possible out for the telecoms,

One government lawyer who has participated in negotiations with telecommunications providers said the Bush administration has argued that a company can turn over its entire database of customer records -- and even the stored content of calls and e-mails -- because customers "have consented to that" when they establish accounts. The fine print of many telephone and Internet service contracts includes catchall provisions, the lawyer said, authorizing the company to disclose such records to protect public safety or national security, or in compliance with a lawful government request.

"It is within their terms of service because you have consented to that," the lawyer said. If the company also consents, "and they do it voluntarily, the U.S. government can accept it."

Verizon's customer agreement, for example, acknowledges the company's "duty under federal law to protect the confidentiality of information about the quantity, technical configuration, type, destination, and amount of your use of our service," but it provides for exceptions to "protect the safety of customers, employees or property." Verizon will disclose confidential records, it says, "as required by law, legal process, or exigent circumstances."

In the face of specific federal laws against such disclosures (see here and here for examples), I think such a defense would be a stretch, but it certainly gives them something to talk about.

Moussaoui Jury Member Finally Speaks

It was only a matter of time.

Today's WaPo tells us,
Only one juror stood between the death penalty and Zacarias Moussaoui and that juror frustrated his colleagues because he never explained his vote, according to the foreman of the jury that sentenced the al-Qaeda operative to life in prison last week.

The foreman, a Northern Virginia math teacher, said in an interview that the panel voted 11 to 1, 10 to 2 and 10 to 2 in favor of the death penalty on three terrorism charges for which Moussaoui was eligible for execution. A unanimous vote on any one of them would have resulted in a death sentence.
The books and made-for-TV movies to follow. Now that one has broken the silence, look for several others to talk in the next couple days.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Cafferty

Jack Cafferty didn't hold back today.

You need to see the video.

Begala on AT&T's Cozy Deal with the Gov't

Atrios brings our attention to an excellent point made today by Paul Begala in the on CNN,
BLITZER: The argument is, if it is going to prevent another 9/11, Americans are willing -- at least a lot of Americans are willing to let some of their privacy lapse.

BEGALA: That's a very good point.

And the Democrats are going to have to point out that this is a classic Republican move, not a national security move. Big government is getting into bed with big business. We're talking about AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth. AT&T, by the way, wants to take over the Internet and start charging for access to the Internet, which Internet pioneers desperately oppose.

So, now, if you are running AT&T, and the president of the United States comes to you and says, hey, why don't I spy, why don't I snoop through your files there, and you want him to give you permission to control the Internet, that's a really lousy alliance politically for the Republicans, to be seen as big government in bed with big business.

29%!

Bush just crashed through the 30% barrier according the the latest Harris Interactive poll. And this poll wouldn't even take into account today's revelations about NSA domestic spying.

The wheels are coming off the wagon.

How low can he go?

Think Progress : Telcos Could Be Liable For Tens of Billions

As I said below, I expect the class action lawsuits to be on file by Monday.

Telcos Could Be Liable For Tens of Billions of Dollars For Illegally Turning Over Phone Records.

Did the AG Lie to Congress?

TPMmuckraker has the testimony,
NADLER: Number two, can you assure us that there is no warrantless surveillance of calls between two Americans within the United States?

GONZALES: That is not what the president has authorized.

NADLER: Can you assure us that it's not being done?

GONZALES: As I indicated in response to an earlier question, no technology is perfect.

NADLER: OK.

GONZALES: We do have minimization procedures in place...

NADLER: But you're not doing that deliberately?

GONZALES: That is correct.

Greenwald weighs in on latest NSA revelations

No need for Congress, no need for courts

Glenn points out, from the USA Today story, that Qwest held out in the face of major bullying tactics, and when Qwest sought a ruling from the FISA Court or a DoJ letter of approval, the NSA refused. He notes that at every opportunity for judicial review, this admin refuses.

There's much more to Glenn's post and it's all good.

As an aside, anyone care to take bets on when the first class action lawsuit will be on file against each telcom that divulged info to the NSA on our calls?

UPDATE: Glenn updates the legal issues governing the Administration's newly disclosed surveillance program.

As I mentioned earlier. Within 10 days -- and probably by Monday -- several class action lawsuits will be on file against the telecoms who disclosed private info without a court order. These lawsuits will be between private citizens and their telecom service providers, leaving the admin -- at least initially -- on the outside. That is how this whole sordid affair will finally get before a court.

Howard and Rahm

According to the WaPo Howard Dean and Rahm Emanuel are going at it over how and where to spend money and it sounds like it's getting ugly.
....Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), ... stormed out of Dean's office several days ago leaving a trail of expletives, according to Democrats familiar with the session.

The blowup highlights a long-standing tension that has pitted Democratic congressional leaders, who are focused on their best opportunities for electoral gains this fall, against Dean and many state party chairmen, who believe that the party needs to be rebuilt from the ground up -- even in states that have traditionally been Republican strongholds.

Emanuel's fury, Democratic officials said, was over his concern that Dean's DNC is spending its money too freely and too early in the election cycle -- a "burn rate" that some strategists fear will leave the party unable to help candidates compete on equal terms with Republicans this fall.

The WaPo goes on to inform us that the Ds have thus far raised $74M with $10M on hand, while the GOP has raised $142M with $43M on hand, which, by the way, is a typical disparity between the parties.

Rahm see this as an historic opportunity that the Ds can't squander, and he's right. While rebuilding from the ground up is urgently needed, we can't be spending precious resources in deep red areas now. The GOP will always have more money than us (actually, the netroots are changing this, but bear with me) so we have to be smart.

All of our resources at this point must be focused like a laser on maximizing gains in November.

An history victory in November will then provide the perfect opportunity to focus on turning some deep red areas to blue. But if the Ds don't win an historic victory in November, all the rebuilding in the world won't help a party viewed by the public has hopelessly crippled.

This Is Criminal Activity

And we learn about it from that liberal rag, the Wall Street Journal.

Until this point, all "Relief and Reconstruction" funds for Iraq have been appropriated under the jurisdiction of Special Inspector General or Iraq Reconstruction Stuart Bowen. Apparently, he's been doing such a good job -- including taking on Halliburton -- that the WH has tried to pull a fast one by reappropriating money in such a way as to bypass Bowen.

You've got to read it to believe it. The Carpetbagger Report has the story.

(via Kevin Drum)

More Lies Exposed on NSA Spying.

This is a very big story.

The NSA has been collecting a database of all US calls since shortly after 9/11.

USATODAY has the story,

The NSA's domestic program, as described by sources, is far more expansive than what the White House has acknowledged. Last year, Bush said he had authorized the NSA to eavesdrop — without warrants — on international calls and international e-mails of people suspected of having links to terrorists when one party to the communication is in the USA. Warrants have also not been used in the NSA's efforts to create a national call database.

In defending the previously disclosed program, Bush insisted that the NSA was focused exclusively on international calls. "In other words," Bush explained, "one end of the communication must be outside the United States."

As a result, domestic call records — those of calls that originate and terminate within U.S. borders — were believed to be private.

Sources, however, say that is not the case. With access to records of billions of domestic calls, the NSA has gained a secret window into the communications habits of millions of Americans....

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

HUD Sec Admits He Lied

The HUD Sec. today:
I deeply regret the anecdotal remarks I made at a recent Texas small business forum and would like to reassure the public that all HUD contracts are awarded solely on a stringent merit-based process. During my tenure, no contract has ever been awarded, rejected, or rescinded due to the personal or political beliefs of the recipient.
The HUD Sec last week,
“He had made every effort to get a contract with HUD for 10 years,” Jackson said of the prospective contractor. “He made a heck of a proposal and was on the (General Services Administration) list, so we selected him. He came to see me and thank me for selecting him. Then he said something … he said, ‘I have a problem with your president.’

“I said, ‘What do you mean?’ He said, ‘I don’t like President Bush.’ I thought to myself, ‘Brother, you have a disconnect — the president is elected, I was selected. You wouldn’t be getting the contract unless I was sitting here. If you have a problem with the president, don’t tell the secretary.’

“He didn’t get the contract,” Jackson continued. “Why should I reward someone who doesn’t like the president, so they can use funds to try to campaign against the president? Logic says they don’t get the contract. That’s the way I believe.”
Why is a wanker like this on Bush's Cabinet?

(via TPM)

Why Should Congress Take this From Rummy?

I would think even the GOP drones would be pissed about this, since they control Congress.

Yesterday at a press briefing Rummy blamed Congress for funding delays as a reason that Iraqi security forces are not up and running.

Just one problem. Rummy's lying. Turns out Rummy has only spent 40% of the $7 BILLON Congress has already appropriated for training Iraqi security forces with billions unspent and 'on the table.'

Think Progress has the story.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

This Story Just Got Interesting


Have you been following the Alphonso Jackson story?

In a speech before a real estate group Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Alphonso Jackson boasted that he canceled a government contract with a business because the CEO was critical of President Bush. Jackson claimed the minority business was on the General Services list of approved vendors and "made a heck of a proposal." But upon meeting the contractor, Jackson learned that the contractor wasn't a Bush fan. "“Why should I reward someone who doesn't like the president, so they can use funds to try to campaign against the president?"

Well, turns out that Jackson broke the law by linking a love of Bush to government contracts. Think Progress has been all over this story.

His action also proved controversial with some members of Congress,
"“Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) called on President Bush to ask for the immediate resignation of the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Alphonso Jackson if a report about government contracts being awarded based on the contractor's opinion of President Bush are accurate."

Reps. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Barney Frank (D-MA) write Secretary Jackson: "“If this account is accurate, your comments were improper and most likely illegal. Federal contracts should be awarded based on merit, not on whether a contractor likes or dislikes President Bush."
I didn't post on this because, frankly, I didn't think it was surprising, and that it would blow over in a couple days. If Ds made a fuss, the right would mock them and dismiss the whole affair as commendable loyalty,.....Everyone does it, trying to manufacture a scandal, yada, yada, yada. I couldn't imagine the story would have traction with the public.

But now, Jackson claims he fabricated the entire story!

Before, loyal Bush secretary. Now, yet another liar and idiot in the Bush cabinet. The GOP will happily defend a loyalist, but an admitted liar? Known liars of course, but not admitted liars.

Now, the story has legs and just got interesting.

UPDATE: Josh's reader has yet another theory to explain Jackson's web of lies.

31%


Americans have a bleaker view of the country's direction than at any time in more than two decades, and sharp disapproval of President Bush's handling of gasoline prices has combined with intensified unhappiness about Iraq to create a grim political environment for the White House and Congressional Republicans, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll.

Democrats run to Bush's Rescue

Glenn has has a good point.
...So, to recap: the extremely unpopular Bush nominates as CIA Director (a) an active military general who (b) is a close ally of Dick Cheney, (c) is the person most responsible for, and associated with, the illegal NSA program, and (d) has caused a serious break between Bush and his most reliable Congressional allies. And the first instinct of Democrats like Feinstein and Harman is to prevent any Democratic message unity on this issue and to jump to the defense of the President by defending his pick and insisting that the NSA scandal not even be talked about
WTF are they thinking? I don't care how much they like this guy, these are real issues about which the Democratic party is supposed to care.

Email Sen Feinstein and Rep Harman and tell them what you think of their position on this issue.

Bush v. Nixon

This Modern World gives us the graphs I've been looking for.






(again, via Atrios)

Murdoch hearts Hillary?

This is interesting.

Hillary Clinton: The ultimate Fox News Democrat

(via Atrios)

Monday, May 08, 2006

Colbert Video

CSpan cut a deal with Google to allow them to carry the video.

Colbert Roasts President Bush - 2006 White House Correspondents Dinner - Google Video

(via Atrios)

Teens Lie About Sex?

Who knew?

The latest study to determine that kids lie about sex revolves around the 'Viginity Pledge'. William Saletan in Slate fills us in,
Teens who take virginity pledges can't be trusted, according to an analysis of follow-up surveys. Findings: 1) 52 percent of pledgers denied a year later that they'd pledged. 2) Among pledgers who later admitted to having sex the year after the pledge, 73 percent denied they'd pledged. 3) Among pledgers who conceded in the first survey that they'd had sex, nearly one in three claimed a year later that they'd never had sex. 4) Pledgers were four times as likely as non-pledgers to recant previous admissions that they'd had sex. Researchers' conclusions: 1) Teens lie. 2) Pledgers lie more. 3) Born-again pledgers (those who pledge after having sex) lie the most. 4) Pledges fail. 5) We have no idea what works or what the truth is, because all this revisionism makes the data worthless. Conservative objection: Stop dishonoring pledgers by questioning whether they honor their pledges.....

31%



Bush's Approval rating in the latest USATODAY / Gallup poll. Of course, this is a record low for Bush.



Bush's fall is being fueled by erosion among support from conservatives and Republicans. In the poll, 52% of conservatives and 68% of Republicans approved of the job he is doing. Both are record lows among those groups.
_____

"You hear people say he has a hard core that will never desert him, and that has been the case for most of the administration," says Charles Franklin, a political scientist at the University of Wisconsin who studies presidential approval ratings. "But for the last few months, we started to see that hard core seriously erode in support."

Only four presidents have scored lower approval ratings since the Gallup Poll began regularly measuring it in the mid-1940s: Harry Truman, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter and the first George Bush. When Nixon, Carter and the elder Bush sank below 35%, they never again registered above 40%.

3 Presidents; 3 Best Moments

Presidents Carter, Clinton and George W. at different times were asked to describe the best moment of their presidency. Their answers are very revealing.

Carter: The Camp David Peace Accords

Clinton: Stopping the massacre in the Balkans.

George W: Catching a 7.5 pound fish in his ranch lake.

(via Atrios)

Friday, May 05, 2006

Bush Ends Goss's Stormy Tenure By Forcing Him Out as CIA Chief

The much anticipated WaPo piece in on Goss's departure is now up.

Their version of the story is basically that Gdub didn't like him, even from the start and that he did more harm than good. Goss and Negroponte were engaged in a nasty power struggle, and the brain drain under Goss was too much to ignore.

Incredibly, they claim Goss was told months ago to be prepared to leave by May. I say "incredibly" because there is no replacement already lined up.

Regarding Dusty Foggo, he's under official investigation by the inspector general's office (in addition to the justice department) and, the Post reports, will resign next week.

Here's an excerpt on the very real problem Goss had with is subordinates,

In Goss's first days in office, his appointment of Michael Kostiw as executive director ended after it became public that Kostiw had been forced to leave the CIA under a cloud 20 years earlier. The subsequent search at the agency to find who leaked the information about Kostiw's past led the top two officers in the agency's clandestine service to resign in protest.
.....

Over Goss's 18 months, more than a dozen senior officials -- several of whom were promoted under Goss -- resigned, retired early or requested reassignment. Robert Richer, who was head of the Near East division, served less than a year as the No. 2 official in the clandestine service before quitting in frustration over Goss's leadership last November. Richer then spent several days privately sharing his concerns with senior congressional leaders and Negroponte.

My guess is that Foggo brought a sour situation to a head. There was real concern by Negroponte and the WH about the brain drain, a power struggle and then the Hookergate matter was the proverbial straw.

WOW! Porter Goss Resigns at CIA

Bush just announced that CIA Director Porter Goss Resigned today effective immediately with no successor named.

There's already been some speculation that maybe this has to do with Josh Bolton's shake-up. Don't you believe it! By Bush terms, Goss is fresh blood having not been on the job 18 mos.

My guess is that we can figure out why the abrupt resignation by reading TPM Muckraker.

UPDATE: Think Progress quotes Jamie McIntyre, the CNN Pentagon correspondent:

Well you know Tony weÂ’re trying to find the story behind the story, what'’s actually going on here with Porter Goss. And talking with intelligence officials here in the building, I can tell you it came as a complete surprise to them.

In fact, Porter Goss was apparently supposed to attend a regularly scheduled afternoon meeting that takes place right about this time in the afternoon. The Defense Department has representatives there and, according to sources, none of the people at that meeting had any advance word that Porter Goss was going to be tendering his resignation.

So it indicates the sudden nature that this took place, and again it just fuels the speculation of what the real backstory is here. And again, nobody here seems to know. They are all all just really surprised, they had no idea this was coming. And they'’re really just wondering what was actually behind itemphasissis Think Progress)

Media Fails To Report Rumsfeld’s Misleading Claims From March 2003

Think Progress follows up on yesterday's story of Rummy getting called on the carpet for his past WMD lies.

I asked yesterday why our press doesn't confront Rummy with his own past statements.

Think Progress observes that nearly every print story reporting on yesterday's events leaves out that the 'protestor' confronted Rummy with his own lying words from 2003. They conclude with an important question,
Are newsrooms across the country afraid of being perceived as anti-war 'hecklers'” and '“hostile war critics' if they accurately report the administrationÂ’s false claims?

Bush Should Veto this Pork Bill

Bush would be justified in vetoing this bill. It's ridiculous.

While I oppose hiding the cost of the war in so called 'emergency spending bills' that escape real oversight, the senate bill tells us neither party has any interest in any oversight anyway. The Ds should be voting against anything that doesn't trim Bush's request.

The House say's they won't play ball. We'll see.

Senate Defies Bush on Spending

Really Patrick?

Is it really better to say you weren't drunk when you when you crashed your car at the capital at 2:45AM, you were only mixing prescription sleeping pills with other prescription drugs?

Is there a difference?

Rep. Kennedy's Car Crashes Near Capitol

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Rummsfeld Confronted with Prior Statements on WMD

Why must it be an audience member at a speaking engagement? Why doesn't this happen on Meet the Press?

Via Think Progress, who has the video:

Speaking in Atlanta today, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was sharply questioned about his pre-war claims about WMD in Iraq. An audience member confronted Rumsfeld with his 2003 claim about WMD, “We know where they are.” Rumsfeld falsely claimed he never said it. The audience member then read Rumsfeld’s quote back to him, leaving the defense secretary speechless. Watch it:

Harris Crack-up Continues


The Orlando Sentinel reports today that Katherine Harris personally intervened following her $3000 dollar dinner date with Wade to steer a lucrative DoD contract his way:


Former senior members of U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris' congressional staff say they initially rejected a defense contractor's $10 million appropriation request last year but reversed course after being instructed by Harris to approve it.

Harris insisted that Mitchell Wade's request for funding be given to a defense appropriations subcommittee, despite the request's being late and difficult to understand, according to two former staff members and Harris' former chief political strategist.

"She said, 'It's important to me, so submit it,' " said an ex-staffer who was involved in the process. "She wanted it in."

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Wow! I Find This Stunning.

Jury Rejects Death Sentence for Moussaoui
A federal jury decided today to spare the life of Zacarias Moussaoui, sentencing the avowed al-Qaeda conspirator to life in prison for his role in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist plot.

The verdict was reached after seven days of deliberations following a two-phase death penalty trial that lasted six weeks.

Time for the D Leadership to Ask for Jefferson's Resignation

You either have principals, or you don't.

Now is the time for the Democratic Congressional leadership to tell the country just where they stand on corruption. They can't have it both ways.

An Update from TPM Muckraker.
It's only getting worse for Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA). Vernon Jackson, 53, the CEO of Louisville-based iGate Inc., pleaded guilty today to charges of bribing Jefferson. This is the second plea to implicate him - the other from his former aide, Brett Pfeffer.
There's More.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Plame Was Working on Iran When Outed

Link,
On Chris Matthews' Hardball Monday evening, ...MSNBC correspondent David Shuster confirmed what RAW STORY first reported in February: that outed CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson was working on Iran at the time she was outed (Watch the video of Shuster's report here).

RAW STORY's Larisa Alexandrovna broke the story earlier this year, which went unnoticed by the mainstream media (Read our full story).

According to current and former intelligence officials, Plame Wilson, who worked on the clandestine side of the CIA in the Directorate of Operations as a non-official cover (NOC) officer, was part of an operation tracking distribution and acquisition of weapons of mass destruction technology to and from Iran.

RAW STORY updated the story today reporting that Sen. Lautenberg (D-NJ) has now called on Goss at the CIA to provide an assessment of the damage to national security from this act of treason. This is long overdue.

National Anthem Sung In Spanish At First Bush Inaugural

This is great. Courtesy of Think Progress:National Anthem Sung In Spanish At First Bush Inaugural.

Of course, 9-11 changed everything will be the response.

Monday, May 01, 2006

9%

Of Americans think our Iraqi mission has been accomplished.

(via Think Progress)

Cobert News Blackout

Josh, or rather Josh's reader, makes an appropriate observation regarding the apparent news blackout on Cobert's appearance at the WH Correspondents' dinner. What gives? When Imus skewered Clinton at the height of the Lewinsky matter, it was everywhere.

I suspect this press blackout has more to do with the press getting roasted than Bush.

Here's what I'm talking about,
...But the rest of you [non-Fox press], what are you thinking, reporting on NSA wiretapping or secret prisons in eastern Europe? Those things are secret for a very important reason: they're super-depressing. And if that's your goal, well, misery accomplished. Over the last five years you people were so good -- over tax cuts, WMD intelligence, the effect of global warming. We Americans didn't want to know, and you had the courtesy not to try to find out. Those were good times, as far as we knew.

But, listen, let's review the rules. Here's how it works: the president makes decisions. He's the decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Just put 'em through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know - fiction!
On Saturday night, both Bush and the Press found the truth very painful.

3 Years Ago Today


The Christian Science Monitor has an excellent recap of the last 3 years. It's actually a summary of the reporting of other major news outlets. It should come as no surprise that it doe not paint a postive picture.

From Think Progress: ‘Mission Accomplished’ By The Numbers:


May 1, 2003 Today
U.S. Troops Wounded 542 17,469
U.S. Troops Killed
139 2,400
Size of U.S. Forces 150,000 132,000
Size of Iraqi Security Forces
7,000-9000 250,500
Number of Insurgents 5,000 15,000-20,000
Insurgent Attacks Per Day 8 75
Cost to U.S. Taxpayers $79 billion $320 billion
Approval of Bush’s Handling of Iraq 75% 37%
Percentage of Americans who Believe The Iraq War Was “Worth Fighting” 70% 41%
Bush’s Overall Job Approval 71% 38%