Sunday, July 31, 2005

Take Amercia Back

First Ohio
Then America

In 2000, our country was hijacked by a group of immoral, dangerous political opportunists. In Ohio on Tuesday, we have an opportunity to begin to take our country back from George Bush and his band of liars, cheats and thieves.

We can start in the 2nd Congressional District in Ohio. If you know someone in Ohio - call or email them. Ask them to help Paul Hackett. Ask them to ask their friends to help Paul Hackett. If they live in the Ohio 2nd tell them how important it is that they vote. If they don't live in the Ohio 2nd ask them to call someone they know who does.

In 2000, George Bush stole our country. The man he will appoint as UN Ambassador, John Bolton helped him. The man he just appointed to the Supreme Court, John Roberts helped him. The man who outed Valerie Plame helped him. Do you see a pattern here? We can put an end to that pattern, but we have to do it on the ground where Americans live, not in Washington. Change begins in places like Portsmouth, Waverly, West Union, Milford, Indian Hill..... It ends in Washington.

An avalanche begins with a small pebble.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Up Yours

President Bush Giving Americans the Finger

Other than some late night play, the mainstream press apparently has not problem with President Bush waving the finger to the assembled press. There is a quote floating around from some right wing nut job that says Bush is "a man extraordinary vision and brilliance ."

I don't think public displays of petulance and the use of a demeaning gestures as you walk away invalidates the idea the Bush is "extraordinary". But, where some presidents might engage the press with words or at least banter, Bush's mind works too slowly and his capacity for self-expression is so weak that all he has left is a rude gesture. Bush is a weak brained, weak willed slacker, who bought his way to his party's nomination and cheated his way into the Presidency. The best thing that every happened to George Bush, besides someone giving him an unearned partial ownership in a major league baseball club, was 9/11. And, he has ridden that horse about as far as it will go.

This is the man who, until he squandered the title, was the leader of the free world. He is a symbol of this country and by this gesture he is telling all Americans and, in fact, the world what he thinks of us.

The 51% who placed this fraud in office must be very proud.

Gone Nuts

The Right Wing Has Gone Nuts

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

_________ has captured the hearts of the whole nation, despite the sometimes difficult and unpopular decisions he had to make, is perhaps the deepest, most amazing secret of our age. It cannot be explained only by his accomplishments, for it is just those who have had to make the heaviest sacrifices for him and for national reconstruction, indeed who must still bring them, who have sensed his mission in the deepest and most joyful way. They are the ones who have the most honest and passionate love for him as Führer and as a man. That is the result of the magic of his personality and the deep mystery of his pure and honest humanity." Joseph Goebbels

Godwin's Law be damned. These are dangerous times and the Bush sycophants, like Hinderaker, combined with his right wing morally bankrupt base ( the religious right - not to be confused with conservative Christians) are driving this country to the brink of disaster.

Help Hackett

There Are No "lost causes"
Only Causes Worth The Fight

Get over to the Swing State Project and read the on-the-ground reporting from Bob Brigham from Paul Hackett's congressional campaign in Ohio.

Reading about what is happening in this Republican stronghold, when a man, who happens to be a Democrat, with ideas and the courage to tell people what he thinks steps forward is awe inspiring.

The DCCC should be ashamed of itself for not putting more resources in place for Hackett's campaign. If it wasn't for grassroots organizations driven by progressive blogs, Hackett wouldn't have the resources to challenge the corrupt Ohio Republican establishment.

Win or lose, Democrats should learn about fighting every battle in every state. If we want our ideas to prevail, we have to work to have those ideas get a fair hearing everywhere. Paul Hackett is doing that. He shouldn't be the only Democratic candidate fighting in a "lost cause" campaign.

"…you know that you fight for the lost causes harder than for any others. Yes, you'd even die for them…"

Fair and Balanced

"My level of concern about losing
this seat before the announcement
was zero and it remains zero."

Ron Nehring - Republican Hack

A recent "news" article in the San Diego Union Tribune purports to discuss the political ramifications of Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham's decision to not seek reelection in 2006. Of course, Cunningham may be spending all of his time in court or even jail by 2006, so not seeking reelection is probably not a bad idea.

What is a bad idea is "news" about the potential challengers for Cunningham's seat that virtually ignores an announced Democratic candidate, Francine Busby, and instead concentrates exclusively on which Republican will be allowed to fill the seat. UT reporter, John Marelius, makes a single passing reference to Busby in an article filled with quotes from Republican operatives.

Marelius gives the floor to Republican County Chairman, Ron Nehring, whose statement appears as the headline above. Nehring obviously has the appropriate Republican political credentials, but Nehring's relationship to
San Diego politics is pretty thin. Nehring is a national operative, whose background includes running Republican campaigns in HIS HOME STATE OF NEW YORK. Nehring is a Republican "true believer" with little local credibility, so he gets a prime quote in the article, while no one from the Democratic Party or Busby campaign gets a chance to present any rebuttal.

But, Nehring isn't the only Republican partisan quoted by Marelius in his article. For proof that Cunningham's district has a "Republicans Only" sign posted at its borders, Marelius turns to the academic world and gets a quote from Jack Pitney, a political science professor at Claremont McKenna College. Pitney proclaims that Busby is doomed.

Marelius does note in his introduction of Pitney that he was "a one-time Republican congressional aide." What he fails to point out is that one of the congressmen Pitney aided was Dick Cheney. Nor does Marelius note that Pitney is, in his own words, "a former staffer for GOP attack strategist Lee Atwater."

Marelius also share the insight of Allan Hoffenblum, who also predicts that no Democrat can win in Cunningham's district.

"It is a solid Republican district and the one who wins the primary has the seat as long as he or she wants it, barring political scandal."

In Hoffenblum's case Marelius doesn't even bother to give us an idea of his potential bias. But, there is a bias. Hoffenblum is the owner of "Allan Hoffenblum & Associates, a Republican political consulting firm based in
Los Angeles."

So.....let's look at scorecard here.

Contention - No Democrat can win this seat. The Republicans can trot out any candidate they want and still win.

Arguing for this contention - The Republican County Chairman, a former Dick Cheney aide and a Republican political consultant.

Marelius does lean heavily on one other source in his article. UCSD political science professor, Gary Jacobson, an expert on congressional politics. Jacobson is pessimistic about Busby's chances as well, but at least he concedes that Busby is "a perfectly respectable candidate." Yet, he concludes that, "she's just in the wrong district."

Of course, that is likely to be the same conclusion he would make concerning Democrat Paul Hackett's quest for the congressional seat from the 2nd District in
Ohio. No Democrat has garnered over 30% of the vote in that district in recent memory. Recent polls put Hackett within 5% of his Republican opponent and he has momentum going into Tuesday's special election.

Republican arrogance and corruption are key issues in
Ohio and they are painfully big issues in Cunningham's district. Marelius started from the perspective, provided him by Republican operatives, that a Democrat can't win in Cunningham's district no matter what issues are involved. He interviewed only those who, by party affiliation, conformed to that point of view and didn't bother to delve into other potential outcomes.

How does the myth of the liberal media persist?

Friday, July 29, 2005

My Left Wing


When we find a quality site, we like to let everyone know.

My Left Wing is a new, exciting and creative site. Check it out.

The proprietor even lets us play around over there.

Duke Must Go - the Sequel

The Cunningham Slime
Just Keeps Leaking Out

Today, the San Diego Union Tribune reports another amazing story about Congress Randy "Duke" Cunningham.

Between 2001 and 2003, Cunningham took a very active roll in pushing the Internal Revenue Service to hire a San Diego a company that had formed to provide tax auditing services to the IRS. None of the principles in this company, First Auditors, had any accounting experience and they intended to perform the specialized audits using software developed by a company, Integrated Actuarial Services, that lost out in the contract bidding process to First Auditors.

"Integrated Actuarial Services of Ormond Beach, Fla., says the Rancho Santa Fe Republican, acting in his role as a member of the House Appropriations Committee, pressed the IRS to pursue an auditing project that led to a contract benefiting the San Diego group.

The group, which includes two residents of Cunningham's district, incorporated in 1999 as First Auditors for the express purpose of pursuing the IRS auditing contract. None of them had an accounting background, and First Auditors had no other projects or clients."

During the time that First Auditors was attempting to capture the IRS contract that ultimately came their way, "Cunningham wrote at least five letters to the IRS commissioner ... urging the agency to sign a contract for the program." But, Cunningham apparently did more than just write letters.

In May 2001 he appealed to IRS commissioner, Charles Rosotti, for "a meeting with you on behalf of my constituents, the principals of First Auditors' L.L.C., of San Diego."

Letters, meetings and ultimately legislation.

"Cunningham was instrumental in getting language into the appropriations committee report accompanying the annual IRS funding bills in 2002, 2003 and 2004 that called on the agency to spend $3 million, $4 million and $4 million, respectively, on the project."

Besides a personal sense of satisfaction, what did Cunningham gain from his support of First Auditors?

"First Auditors' three principals and their Washington lobbyist donated a total of $11,600 to Cunningham's campaign and political action committee between 2001 and 2005."

What about the program that Cunningham push so hard to have the IRS put in place?

"About $5 million was spent – including $3.5 million paid to First Auditors and $1.5 million spent internally by the IRS – before the IRS halted the program."

Two things amaze me about the whole series of Cunningham dealings. First, why hasn't he had the decency to resign? Second, why has not a single Democrat lodged an ethics complaint against Cunningham?

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Life In America

Salud Zamudio-Rodriguez
Died For Your Salad

The LA Times reminds us how far we have to go in this country. Salud Zamudio-Rodriguez died so that a wealthy California grower could maximize the utilization of his farm equipment. He died so you could have a low cost bell pepper to cut up in your salad.

"We watched him dying in the field," said Soledad Reyes, 43, who had been working next to him.

As the tractor moved through the fields, it pulled a conveyor belt onto which the pickers dumped their buckets of bell peppers, Reyes said in an interview. Typically, the tractor driver sets a reasonable speed, enabling the workers to drink water and still harvest three buckets of peppers every 15 minutes, she said.

But from 12:15 to 2:45 p.m. that day, the tractor driver, at the behest of the grower's foreman, set a pace that required them to pick six buckets every 15 minutes, she said.

"In all my years of picking crops, I have never worked that fast," Reyes said. "All of us were skipping plants to keep up, but Salud was trying to pick every pepper."

[...] At some point, she said, Zamudio-Rodriguez walked up to the crew boss and collapsed in his arms.

The crew boss took off his hat and tried to fan him. Workers set him in the shade of an adjacent almond orchard and tried to give him water. But it did no good.

[...] On the way to Bakersfield's Mercy Hospital, still deep in the fields, Zamudio-Rodriguez died.

Zamudio-Rodriguez was one of three farm workers to die in the California Central Valley in the last three weeks. Two other workers died in the intense 100+ degree heat. Like Zamudio-Rodriguez they were victims of a farm culture that values equipment more than people and resists even the most basic attempts to lighten the burden on its workers.

California legislators are debating a bill that calls for growers to provide shade and additional rest period for workers when temperatures exceed 95 degrees. It seems simple and prudent, but for growers its not productive.

"It's not like the industry didn't have a warning," said UFW President Arturo Rodriguez. "Last year, after the death of Asuncion Valdivia from heatstroke, we sent letters to the major table grape growers. We asked them to take voluntary steps to deal with the heat.

"Not one grower responded to our call or implemented any changes."

Barry Bedwell, president of the California Grape and Tree Fruit League, said agriculture has not ignored the issue.

"For a year now, we've been holding seminars with growers, supervisors and workers on how to recognize and prevent heat-related illness," he said.

Nothing like a seminar in an air conditioned conference room to prepare people like Zamudio-Rodriguez to be worked to death in the heat by a grower more concerned with getting a field cleared than preventing death or injury to his workers.

Something to think about while enjoying a meal.

Lies and Liars

Bush Lied, People Died
Who Is the Third Stooge?

The Washington Post today updates the story of its reporter, Walter Pincus, who wrote about his encounter with a third Bush Administration official in July of 2003. So far two senior level White House officials, Carl Rove and Scooter (love that name) Libby have been implicated in the outing of Valerie Wilson (Plame), a covert CIA operative.

Pincus reports that a third White House official encourage him to write a story to counter claims made by Joseph Wilson in his just published NY Times op-ed piece debunking claims made by President Bush regarding Iraqi attempts to buy uranium in Niger.

"Mr. Pincus says, 'an administration official, who was talking to me confidentially about a matter involving alleged Iraqi nuclear activities, veered off the precise matter we were discussing and told me that the White House had not paid attention' to the trip to Niger by Joseph C. Wilson IV 'because it was a boondoggle arranged by his wife, an analyst with the agency who was working on weapons of mass destruction.'"

How much more evidence is necessary to demonstrate that there was an organized White House conspiracy to attack Wilson's credibility. An attack by men who had no regard for the damage their actions would do to a covert agent, the cover company that she used or other covert agents with whom she worked?

How much more evidence is necessary to demonstrate the near complete accuracy of the Downing Street memos regarding the fixing of intelligence around a course of action already decided? Decided by men who continue to send America's finest off to die in a war that appears to be nothing more than a political campaign strategy designed to keep President Bush and his Republican enablers in Congress in power.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Cut and Run - The Game Begins

Rumsfeld Meets Generals In Secret
So They Don't Get Blown Up

Secretary of Defense, Donald "The Army We Weren't Prepared to Send" Rumsfeld told the Iraqis to get with it today. Rummy is pissed at the slow pace at which Iraq is turning into a Jeffersonian Democracy and wants the folks over there to make something happen.

Oh, by the way, in honor of Rummy's visit top US General, George Casey, said that the US was working on plans to begin the withdrawal of troops early in 2006.

[Casey] told reporters that a ``fairly substantial'' withdrawal of U.S. troops could go ahead in the spring and summer of 2006 if the Iraqi political process is not derailed and the insurgency does not grow.

Pentagon officials have provided little detail in discussing the possible withdrawal of forces from Iraq. The most specific estimate has come from Lt. Gen. John Vines, who runs day-to-day military operations in Iraq. He said in June that a reduction of ``four or five brigades'' - perhaps 20,000 troops out of the current 135,000 - was possible sometime next year.

General Casey didn't mention that President Bush, just one month ago said that setting a timetable for troop withdrawal would be a "serious mistake". In fact, last week in a joint appearance with the Australian Prime Minister, Bush reiterated his opposition to setting up some sort of timeframe for withdrawal.

So.... Today, the top US general in the region starts talking about a withdrawal timetable that looks suspiciously like the one leaked in a British report that was immediately discredited two weeks ago by the same crew that appears now to be following that agenda to the letter.

The Iraqi armed forces are years away from being capable of effective military action. In fact the number of combat ready Iraq soldiers is probable less than one fifth the size of the insurgent forces that they face.

The Bush Administration apparently believes that people automatically believe whatever they say to be true, even if what they say today is 180 degrees from what they said yesterday.

Who will be the last American to die before the withdrawal is complete and Iraq is plunged into civil war?

(photo Reuters)

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Duke Must Go!

New Revelations Regarding
Cunningham and Kontogiannis

When news of one questionable deal after another was breaking around Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham, the relationship between Cunningham and New York businessman, Thomas T. Kontogiannis, seemed to come somewhat out of the blue. Kontogiannis you might recall bought, or maybe just pretended to buy, Cunningham's boat, the Kelly C. You can read up on the background to that deal here and here. In addition to the boat deal that netted Cunningham a $400,000 profit, a company owned by Kontogiannis' daughter provided Cunningham with at least three mortgage loans at wholesale rates.

Today the Washington Post reports that Cunningham's connection with Kontogiannis stretches back to 2000, well before his current boat and home mortgage dealings. Apparently, Cunningham, who offered to help Kontogiannis get a president pardon after his bribery and fraud conviction, was involved in an attempt to influence the original investigation that led to that conviction.

"Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham wrote to a prosecutor in Queens in 2000 on behalf of a New York developer who was then under investigation for bribing a school superintendent to get a computer contract. The businessman, Thomas T. Kontogiannis, later bought the California Republican's boat and helped finance his new home.

Nicole Navas, a spokeswoman for Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, said that the Oct. 19 letter on Cunningham's congressional stationery was faxed to prosecutors handling the bribery probe but that Brown's office did not act on it further because it concerned an active grand jury investigation.

Kontogiannis was indicted along with the school superintendent a few weeks later. He pleaded guilty to a scheme to defraud in the second degree, a misdemeanor, and agreed to pay nearly $5 million to settle the bid-rigging case. Navas declined to provide a copy of the letter."

How is it that the Congressional representative for the California 50th District gets involved in trying to influence a fraud investigation in the New York state court? What is the link between Cunningham and Kontogiannis and what led a California Congressman to try to leverage an investigation of Kontogiannis in 2000?

Monday, July 25, 2005

Truth or Consequences

Useful Idiots

If you don't read James Walcott, you are missing some of the best writing and most intelligent commentary available to us ordinary folk. Yesterday, Mr. Walcott took on one of the Howard Kaloogian's Truth Tour cheerleaders. It wasn't pretty, but it was real. More real than the crap spewed by the Move America Forward shills working for a California PR firm, which is what the Truth Tour was all about in the first place.

Here is what rightwing radio host Michael Graham perspective of "reality" in Iraq:

"Again and again, from 'white-collar' soldiers working in the relative safety of Camp Victory at the Baghdad airport to the "real" soldiers patrolling Route Irish (a.k.a the 'Highway of Death'), I heard that America and their Iraqi-army allies are winning the war against the insurgents. I was told again and again by the soldiers themselves that their (our) cause is just, the strategy is working, and the enemy they fight represents evil itself.

"In other words, I heard things seldom heard on CBS or read in the pages of the New York Times."

As Walcott points out, here's how the New York Times turns away from the "truth" and reports what the insurgents want printed:

"Despite months of assurances that their forces were on the wane, the guerrillas and terrorists battling the American-backed enterprise here appear to be growing more violent, more resilient and more sophisticated than ever.

"After concentrating their efforts for two and a half years on driving out the 138,000-plus American troops, the insurgents appear to be shifting their focus to the political and sectarian polarization of the country - apparently hoping to ignite a civil war - and to the isolation of the Iraqi government abroad."

Walcott makes the obvious point:

"The Sunday pages of The New York Times must have brought Michael Graham only further confirmation that what he heard over there is the plain truth and what he reads over here is fancy hogwash. Denying the enveloping disaster in Iraq is how he maintains his membership in the marching band of useful idiots." (emphasis mine)

Idiots, indeed. Useful....?

Sunday, July 24, 2005

"Fire Up The Shredder"

White House Had 12 Hour Advance Warning of Plame Investigation

Chief Law Enforcement Officer of US
Gave Them A Free Pass

In the Sunday NY Times, Frank Rich pointed out the 12 hour gap that occurred between the decision by the Justice Department to initiate an investigation of the outing of CIA operative, Valerie Wilson (Plame) and the time when the White House was formally informed of that decision. However, as soon as the decision was made at the Justice Department, White House chief counsel Alberto "Torture Is OK" Gonzales was informed by Justice officials. Gonzales told Justice that he would inform the White House staff the next morning of the investigation and their requirement to preserve any files or documents that might pertain to the investigation.

As White House counsel, he was the one first notified that the Justice Department, at the request of the C.I.A., had opened an investigation into the outing of Joseph Wilson's wife. That notification came at 8:30 p.m. on Sept. 29, 2003, but it took Mr. Gonzales 12 more hours to inform the White House staff that it must "preserve all materials" relevant to the investigation

It turns out that Gonzales didn't wait to inform at least on member of the White House staff immediately upon being informed that an investigation was underway. Mr. Gonzales apparently didn't even put down the phone after his call from Justice, instead he called White House chief of staff, Andrew Card and let him know what was coming.

As the Washington Post is reporting in its Monday early edition,

Gonzales said yesterday that he spoke with White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. immediately after learning that the Justice Department had launched a criminal investigation into the leak of a CIA operative's identity. But Gonzales, who was White House counsel at the time, waited 12 hours before officially notifying the rest of the staff of the inquiry.

So, Gonzales told the Justice Department that he would wait 12 hours to formally notify the White House staff of the investigation and then "immediately" calls the White House chief of staff to inform him of the investigation.

Wait, there is more. The AP is reporting that the White House refuses to comment as to who Mr. Card may have informed of the upcoming Justice Department investigation in the 12 hours preceding the formal notification.

The White House has not responded to questions about whether Card passed that information to top Bush aide Karl Rove or anyone else, giving them advance notice to prepare for the investigation.

A spokeswoman said the White House won't comment on the pending investigation.

Clearly during that 12 hour period, any documents or records pertaining to the upcoming investigation could have been shredded or otherwise destroyed without technically violating any laws. Sort of a free pass to get rid of any incriminating evidence.

Dogs Rule

If Only Onion Headlines Were True

It is hard to imagine a world without the The Onion. Their news might not be real, but it is far better than the reality that we are stuck with everyday.

"The skeptics believed that the House and Senate weren't ready for a puppy," Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) said. "They believed we wouldn't be able to maintain America's defenses, regulate commerce, and pass laws while raising Buster. But we have proven them wrong. We feed him and walk him every day."

Perhaps Congress should take a hint and study more of the wisdom of dogs.

"Sadistic, cruel and inhumane."

America - Let Freedom Ring
Cheney Endorses "Sadistic, Cruel and Inhumane" Behavior

The Vice President of the United States has taken the lead in the effort to block any legislation that would regulate the treatment of detainees in the Bush Adminstration war on anyone they damn well please making war on.

Cheney is working hard to defuse an uprising of Republican Senators who are trying to create accountability and transparency in the process of prisoners detention, treatment and the accessability of detainees to some sort of legal process beyond indefinite incarceration, torture and potentally death.

The International Herald Tribune confirms that Cheney is the lead, backed up by a threated Presidential veto, in the effort to stop legislation that would provide accountablity in the handling of detainees.

The legislation, which is still being drafted, includes provisions to bar the military from hiding prisoners from the Red Cross; prohibit cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of detainees; and use only interrogation techniques authorized in a new army field manual.

The Republican Senators involved in pushing for this minimal level of civilized behavior by the United States are John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John Warner of Virginia. Senates Democrats are nearly unanimous in their support of this initiative.

McCain is a former Vietnam prisoner of war and Graham served in the military as a lawyer. Both have been critics of the Bush Adminstration position and handling of those taken into custody in Bush's terror war.

According to Senate officials, McCain is considering introducing several amendments. One would prohibit the practice of seizing people and sending them abroad for interrogation. That practice has become the subject of mounting international criticism, as some of the countries involved are known to use torture. It has caused a deepening rift between the United States and some of its strongest allies.

Also, a McCain amendment would bar the cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of detainees in U.S. custody. This would effectively prohibit not only physical abuse but also practices like placing women's undergarments on the heads of young Muslim male prisoners in an effort to humiliate them.

Graham, who in the past few months has expressed some support for the idea of a wide-ranging independent commission to look into detainee abuses, is seeking to define the term "enemy combatant" for detention purposes, and to regulate the military tribunals to be held soon at the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The Bush Administration continues to refuse to accept any responsibility for the international public relations disaster that its actions have provoked. How can America be a symbol of freedom, if a single criminal act like 9/11, no matter how horrible, can result in complete abandonment of every legal protection and the rule of law? Cheney and Bush are promoting a system of incarceration without charge, confession by torture and the suspension of the rule of law.

Cheney and Bush want to make sure that they can keep on running prisons and detention facilities where this sort of thing is routine.

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

"Sadistic, cruel and inhumane." If this is the behavior at the bottom of the chain, it must mirror the behavior at the top.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Barbara's Not Worried

My Mom's Not Worried About
My Social Security Plan

In another woeful attempt to shift attention away from Karl Rove, President Bush is back on the road with his Social Security Privatization and Revival Tour. Friday, as the LA Times tells us, he pitched his tent in Atlanta and took his mom along to help him preach to the masses. Well, not really the masses, since attendance at this "public event" was restricted to loyalty oath bound Republicans.

Democratic Veteran has the best take on the "Bamboozaplooza Tour" and mommy's involvement.

...There is nothing any doctrinaire republican hates worse than the most successful social insurance program in proves they are wrong and always have been about many things, including the economy, the role of government in helping and protecting it's most needy citizens and being able to run a massive program successfully with minimal to no 'outsourcing' of the fundamentals of the program.

Now, does the BitchBushMom want to tell us how brave and how much guts her half-wit offspring has for not showing up to do his service in the National Guard? After all, when the rubber met the road there, he was off in some rest area playing water-polo with ambitious secretaries and working on getting listed as a liver transplant recipient.

News that the President has not forgotten about gutting Social Security stands in stark contrast to the harsh realities of the financial situation of the vast majority of Americans. As this article points out:

A majority of Americans have less than $25,000 stockpiled for retirement; many experts say a healthy nest egg is at least $500,000.

Not only has the average American's purchasing power declined over the last five years, but the cost for non-discretionary family spending has increased dramatically.

...compared with a generation ago – in dollars adjusted for inflation – the average family of four spends 69 percent more on a mortgage, 90 percent more on health care, 100 percent more on child care and 38 percent more on taxes. Families actually spend 21 percent less on clothing than in the 1970s, 22 percent less on food, 44 percent less on appliances and 30 percent less on furniture. Even though families spend 20 percent less per car, the need for a second vehicle has boosted overall car costs 58 percent.

So, the cost of what we need to live has increased dramatically, but we are saving less, while making more big ticket purchases. Purchases spurred on by consumption oriented economic policies. If, that consumption slows down, the economy will tank and, if Bush gets his way, those with less put aside for retirement than his mommy, will be screwed.

Friday, July 22, 2005


President Bush Loves GITMO

Reuters reports that the Bush Administration threatened to veto a $442 billion defense spending bill if terrorist coddling Senators like Arizona's John McCain include any amendments to the bill requiring an independent investigation of detainees or establishing an independent commission to look into prisoner abuse a Guantanamo Bay in Cuba or any other detention facility involved in the war on terror.

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

Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, who endured torture as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, said after meeting at the Capitol with Vice President Dick Cheney, that he still intended to offer amendments next week "on the standard of treatment of prisoners."

The Department of Defense today won an extension to litigation brought forward by the Center for Constitutional Rights surrounding photos of prisoner abuse at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison.

They were given until today to produce the images, but at the eleventh hour filed a motion to oppose the release of the photos and videos, based on an entirely new argument: they are now requesting a 7(F) exemption from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act to withhold law enforcement-related information in order to protect the physical safety of individuals. Today’s move is the latest in a series of attempts by the government to keep the images from being made public and to cover up the torture of detainees in U.S. custody around the world.

How can we be an example of justice and liberty in the world when we continue to hid the truth from ourselves. Horrible things happened and are happening to people at prisons the United States operates and contracts around the world.

The most horrible abuse of all is the abuse of our Constitution and to the
"decent respect to the opinions of mankind" that our the founders of our country held to be important to the success of our nation.

Paul Hackett - Democrat

Paul Hackett - Father, Husband, Small Business Owner, Marine...Democrat

Paul Hackett faces a special election on August 2 for the open seat in Ohio's 2nd Congressional District. His opponent is a Tom Delay disciple and member in good standing of the Ohio GOP, a group that makes the Mafia look like the Muppets. The Democratic Party could use a man like Paul in Congress and Paul could use your help.

Word - July 22



n 1: someone who betrays his country by committing treason [syn: treasonist]

2: a person who says one thing and does another [syn: double-crosser, double-dealer, two-timer, betrayer]

[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin trditor, from trditus, past participle of trdere, to betray. See tradition.]

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Karl and Scooter Jail House Rock

Karl and Scooter With Some New Friends
Steven (headband at left) and Ari (second from right)
Get Used to Their New Home

The clichés are flying fast...."the dam is breaking"..."smoking gun"...etc. The clichés may be right.

Bloomberg is reporting, what had been rumored for two days, Karl Rove and Scooter Libby appear to have given false information to the Plamegate Grand Jury.

Two top White House aides have given accounts to the special prosecutor about how reporters told them the identity of a CIA agent that are at odds with what the reporters have said, according to persons familiar with the case.

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

The President's Men, it seems, didn't get their stories straight before testifying. Seems like a big mistake for a genius and slick Dick Cheney's top aide.

The New York Times has more evidence that the clichés apply.

According to a report that will be published Friday, during time timeframe in which Valerie Wilson was outed, Rove and Libby were working closely to deflect criticism of the President resulting from his State of the Union claim of Saddam's efforts to procure nuclear material in Africa.

The effort was striking because to an unusual degree, the circle of officials involved included those from the White House's political and national security operations, which are often separately run. Both arms were drawn into the effort to defend the administration during the period.

In another indication of how wide a net investigators have cast in the case, Karen Hughes, a former top communications aide to Mr. Bush, and Robert Joseph, who was then the National Security Council's expert on weapons proliferation, have both told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that they were interviewed by the special prosecutor.

But, wait there's more coming tomorrow. The Wall Street Journal will run an article that apparently confirms today's reports that the supposedly secret memo floating around Air Force One that may have been the primary information source regarding Valerie Wilson's identity, was more that "secret". It was more than "double secret". It was "top secret" and restricted to from any foreign distribution to even our closest allies. Top secret - except to the news media to whom her identity was being shopped.

Of course, Bush and Cheney will stand behind their boys. The closer they stand the more crap that is going to stick to them.

(photo ctsteve)

Insurgents "capable" - Iraqi Army "not so much"

Pentagon Says:

Insurgents = "capable"

Iraqi Army = "no comment"

In a tardy report to the American people, represented by the Congress of the United States, the US military proclaimed the Iraqi insurgency to be "capable, adaptable and intent."

In a report described as "upbeat" Pentagon analysist refused to provide any similar characterization of the capability of 173,000 Iraqi Army and paramilitary police troops. The report suggests that sharing information regarding the capability and readiness of the Iraqi Army might "put both Iraqi and coalition forces at increased risk."

I guess that is possible, but since most Iraqi Army and police units are riddled with insurgent sympathizers and spies it seems likely that anything the Pentagon reported regard their capability would already be know to the insurgents. So it's really the American people the Pentagon wishes to shield from the harsh realities of the Iraqi's lack of readiness to defend themselves.

However, the word out of the Pentagon is that only three out of 100 Iraqi Army battalions are capable of counter-insurgency operations on their own. The remaining 97 units require substantial support from US forces just to get to their own mess halls, let alone deal with insurgents.

So, in a force of 173,000, maybe 5,200 soldiers and policemen are capable of standing up to an insurgent force perhaps at least five times that large.

So when will our troops be home?
The report offered no prediction of when the U.S. forces would begin to draw down. It said that the decision to scale back the 138,000 troops was "conditions based" — meaning it depended on how quickly the Iraqi forces are prepared to defend the country.
Things are going great.

Incompetent, Arrogant, Stupid, Liar...

One Word For Bush

The Washington Post has a small article on a Pew survey(scroll down the article). The survey asked 751 people to respond with the first word that came to their mind to describe President Bush.

The top three responses:

1. Honest 4% (31)
2. Incompetent 3% (26)
3. Arrogant 3% (24)

"Liar", "stupid" and "idiot" made strong showings, but so did "good" and "integrity" and "determined".
Overall, the impressions were slightly more negative than positive, with 40 percent using words Pew interpreted as derogatory toward Bush and 36 percent using ones it classified as favorable. Twelve percent were neutral. The remainder did not answer or said they did not know. The numbers are about the same as those in the Pew survey in February.
It is interesting that another 12% of the public can't think of a single word that describes Bush. Or, maybe they are afraid to use that kind of language to a stranger.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

SCOTUS Follows, Doesn't Lead

SCOTUS Is A Mirror, Not a Searchlight

The Supreme Court has almost never been in front of the public consensus on any issue, including the most contentious issue of any era in history. The perception of the Court's importance has grown as special interest organizations have become more involved in the political process. These organizations have a vested interest in insuring that every political activity becomes an issue of contention. With only the middle ground to occupy none of these organizations on either end of the political spectrum would have much appeal.

Two weeks ago Senator Susan Collins pointed out the obvious regarding President Bush's upcoming Court nomination:

"It just amazes me how many outside interest groups are spoiling for a fight. They're going to be very disappointed if the president nominates a consensus choice. They're not going to be able to raise as much money. They're not going to be able to put on as many divisive ads. They're going to be really crushed."
(emphasis mine)
The stakes haven't grown higher just the rhetoric. University of Virginia law professor, Rosa Brooks, suggests that the Supreme Court historically has been a follower of the public consensus not some radical force in the public debate.

In his 1991 book "The Hollow Hope: Can Courts Bring about Social Change?" political scientist Gerald Rosenberg presented powerful evidence that even landmark cases such as Brown vs. Board of Education and Roe vs. Wade either had little practical effect or simply reflected broader societal changes that were already underway.

Although Rosenberg was at first roundly attacked by legal scholars (who have something of a professional stake in believing that Supreme Court decisions matter), today many constitutional experts accept that Rosenberg was correct: Courts rarely mount serious challenges to the preferences of political majorities. As Stanford Law Dean Larry Kramer put it, "There is now a general consensus among social scientists that courts have not been a strong or consistent counter-majoritarian force in American politics."

In other words, Supreme Court decisions are more of a mirror than a catalyst, reflecting public opinion far more than they shift it. This shouldn't surprise us; Supreme Court justices, like the rest of us, are influenced by shifting social mores. And they know that the court's institutional credibility — and ability to get its decisions enforced — depends on not getting too far ahead of the curve.
(emphasis mine)

If Judge Roberts and the new conservative majority of the Court move away from the comfort zone of the American public it will mark one of the most radical changes in the history of the Supreme Court. A change that when laid at the feet of the Republican Party will guarantee that the they become a minority party in all 50 states (OK, maybe not Utah).

What We Are Fighting For In Iraq - II

Or as Billmon puts it:

How would the folks back home feel if they knew their sons and daughters were getting limbs blown off so that Iraqi politicians could jaunt off to Tehran and say warm and fuzzy things about the crazy old man who gave us the Iranian hostage crisis?

Keeping the Axis of Evil together under President Bush's supervision.

(photo credit - Billmon)

They Will Do Anything to Protect Rove

AMERICABlog says it best:

So, a decision about a critically important decision of the president (Sup Ct nomination) was co-opted for political expediency in order to draw attention away from another critically important decision of the president that was co-opted for political expediency (the decision to invade Iraq).

Reference Bloomberg:

Bush accelerated his search for a Supreme Court nominee in part because of special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation into the leak of a CIA agent's name, according to Republicans familiar with administration strategy.

For Bush everything is politics and power.

On Sunday, San Diego Mayor Dick Murphy resigned. In his five years in office Murphy brought San Diego to the edge of bankruptcy. His reelection last year was decided in the courts when his write in opponent, who appeard to receive more votes, saw her victory invalidated because of inconsistencies in the way some write in ballots were filled out.

On Tuesday, acting mayor, Councilman Michael Zucchet was schedude to preside over the city council. Zucchet missed the meeting having just been convicted of "conspiracy, extortion and fraud charges for accepting campaign contributions and cash from a Las Vegas strip club owner who wanted them to help loosen the city's no-touch laws involving strippers and their customers."

Today, Councilman
Ralph Inzunza, will resign after his conviction on the same charges.

San Diego's political leadership hasn't changed much in the 20 years since Mayor Roger
Hedgecock was convicted for conspiracy and perjury.

As he imposed sentence, Judge William L. Todd Jr. said he had no doubt of Hedgecock’s guilt and that he had “violated the public trust in an onerous, onerous way... Your conduct ... is reprehensible in every sense of the word because you violated the public trust, completely, over and over again.” Facing automatic ouster under state law, Hedgecock had resigned at 3 p.m., December 5, 1985, just minutes before being sentenced.
San Diego will recover. Just as Roger Hedgecock has recoved to become a right wing radio talk show host and even pinch hit for fellow scofflaw, Rush Limbaugh.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

What We're Fighting For In Iraq

Drafts of the new Iraqi constitution are being shopped around for review. It won't be surprising if many of the concepts that Americans included in Iraq's interim constitution are missing from the version that emerges in September.

For example, the quaint
US idea of setting aside a predetermined percentage of parliament seats for women. That's not going to be in the new constitution.

Or how about women's rights which were guaranteed in the interim constitution? Not so much in the new Iraqi version. Yes, women's rights are protected, unless they conflict with Islamic law. If that happens, then Koranic law takes precedence.

...the shift away from the more secular and equitable language of the interim constitution would represent a victory for Shiite clerics and religious politicians, who now wield enormous power and had chafed at the influence exercised by the Americans over that earlier document.
If Iraq's constitution writers have any problems squaring religious law with secular, they can always ask for advice from their new best friends in Iran.

... is it surprising to find the Iraqi government looking for help from powerful Iran? No, but it certainly poses a problem for the White House, which now finds itself putting American soldiers' lives on the line every day to prop up an active ally of the country that we claim, with some plausibility, funds anti-Israeli and other terror groups and is bent on making its own nuclear bomb.

So....we started a war that will result in the subjugation of Iraq women and the alliance of Iraq and Iran. Did I miss the memo that mentioned those goals?

Ignore the Man Behind the Curtain...............

Look Over There, Isn't That Judge Roberts???

So, President Bush rushed his nomination for the newest Supreme forward a couple of weeks. He was just excited about finding a jurist with Roberts' experience (all two years of it) available.

Roberts will be confirmed. If, he can be portrayed as an extremist that will have a positive long term impact. But, bottom line he will be sitting on the court for the next twenty five years and Democrats need to get used to it.

The lies and deceptions that got us into Iraq need to be the focus and Karl Rove is at the heart of all of it. We can't back off and get distracted by what we all knew was going to happen sooner or later as far as the SCOTUS goes.

Here is another take on the meaning behind Plamegate from :
What's being covered up in the Plame/Rove case seems to revolve around the Bush Administration's orchestrated, and perhaps illegal, propaganda campaign to justify its invasion of Iraq. Valerie Plame and her husband Ambassador Joseph Wilson -- who wrote the op-ed in the New York Times that got this whole thing going -- are just the tips of very large icebergs...

...depending on what Bush and Cheney knew and when they knew it -- and what they did or covered-up in the possible light of such knowledge -- there may be plenty of ammunition for likely impeachment hearings. (Note: Bush hired a private attorney last summer for this CIA-leak case. )
The conspiracy was the plan to start a war. Terrorism had nothing to do with it, that was just part of the web of lies.

We can't loose sight of the man behind the curtain. The guy helping his boss look awesome and powerful. The guy putting the words in Bush's month through his earpiece. The guy ready to do anything to anyone to insure that Bush stays in power.

Focus, Focus, Focus

President Bush has selected John G. Roberts Jr. to be the newest Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

MEMO TO DEMOCRATS - You can't stop the President. Had he chosen to nominate Rick Santorum's dog, a filibuster might work. Short of that, or the nomination of James Dodson, Bush is going to get whomever he wants. If Democrats want to change this dynamic, they need to figure out a way to get elected to national office. Change the balance of power in Congress and place a Democrat in the Oval Office, those accomplishments will make a difference in the make-up of the court.

Exposing the right wing extremist who are running our government and shining a light on the perversion of democracy directed by people like Karl Rove will give Democrats a chance.

The Supreme Court is a distraction. It’s the war....That's what Plamegate is all about. Ask Billmon:

...there are still limits, at least for now, on a PR strategy based on the propaganda playbook originally developed by the two Joes (Stalin and Goebbels). And that's some comfort -- even if the Plame scandal isn't in the same category as ginning up a phony WMD threat or turning an entire war into a closely held corporation.
It's the war!

Nuking Too Good For Them

Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo refused to back down from his assertion that the United States should target Moslem holy sites in response to a terrorist attack on the US involving nuclear
weapons. Tancredo, who is exploring the possibility of running for President in 2008, had been best known for his racist stand on immigration. It is interesting to watch a presidential candidate build his platform plank by absurd plank.

Tancredo who has been trying to portray his comments as "hypothetical" apparently doesn't understand that the 99.999% of the world's one billion Moslems would not consider a "hypothetical" nuclear threat hanging over their sacred sites as a positive development.

Tancredo is on his way to becoming the poster boy for Republican foreign policy and by his own admission, he is ready for the job.

"Tough things are said. And we should not shy away from saying things that need to be said."

Like most tough talking Republican chickenhawk warriors, Tancredo missed Vietnam service. In his case it was a deferment for severe depression.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Nuke 'Em All

A few days ago Words Have Power asked what would the US do if a terrorist organization used a nuclear weapon on an American city?

Well, Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-CO) has the answer. Nuke Mecca and every other Moslem holy city (excluding Jerusalem, I assume). This was his reasoned response when asked what the US should do if Islamic extremist carried out nuclear attacks on US cities.

…if this happens in the United States, and we determine that it is the result of extremist, fundamentalist Muslims, you know, you could take out their holy sites."
Question: "You're talking about bombing Mecca?”

Answer: "Yeah. What if you said, we recognize that this is the ultimate threat to the United States, therefore this is the ultimate response."

Tancredo’s logic for the destruction of Moslem holy sites as a response to terrorism was impeccable. As explained by Tancredo spokesperson, Will Adams;

"We have an enemy with no uniform, no state, who looks like you and me and only emerges right before an attack. How do we go after someone like that?"

"What is near and dear to them? They're willing to sacrifice everything in this world for the next one. What is the pressure point that would deter them from their murderous impulses?"

There are one billion Moslems in the world today. The duty of each and everyone of them is to make a pilgrimage to Mecca during their lifetime. Mecca is the touchstone of their faith. Representative Tancredo is suggesting the in response to a nuclear attack carried out by a tiny fringe group of extremist murderers, the United State should retaliate by destroying for all time the very center of the Moslem faith.

Instead of the current small cadre of extremist who are at the fringe of their religious and social structures, Tancredo's strategy creates one billion blood enemies who will pass that hatred on for uncounted generations. A holy war unlike anything the world has every seen.

Brilliant. If Osama bin Laden was writing Tancredo’s speeches for him, it is unlikely that he could have come up with a more explosive and incendiary comment to put into the mouth of an American leader.

Lie Faster, They're Catching Up!

Over at The Impolitic, the proprietor has a quote from Mark Twain hanging on the wall.

"If you tell the truth you don't have to remember anything.”

Good advice that the Bush Administration has failed to heed over the years. Now, smothered in a cloud of lie, the Administration and its knee jerk apologists are lost in a fog of lies so thick that they can’t see the truth from any vantage point.

Check out AMERICABlog, where John Aravosis is typing at a frenzied pace to keep up with today’s spew of deception, restatement, evasion and outright falsehoods. It is a full time job.

At some point the MSM will have to begin to probe the chasm between the Administration's words and their actual deeds. Maybe the light have been turned on, if CBS’s Bob Schieffer is any indication:

Instead, this White House did what it usually does when challenged: It went into attack mode, called charges that the White House had leaked the name ridiculous, and allowed the controversy to boil until a special prosecutor had to be appointed. Now two years and millions of tax dollars later, the president's trusted friend and strategist Karl Rove has emerged as the top suspect, and we're left to wonder: Can anything said from the White House podium be taken at face value, or does the White House just deny automatically anything that reflects badly on it?

Some light may finally be touching upon the Bush fog of lies.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Second Front

The Heretik has the goods and Operation Yellow Elephant confirms it - the Bush Twins are going to war. After weeks of special training at an undisclosed after hours club in Manhattan, Jenna and Barbara are heading out to Iraq in the near future.

In an article set to be published in tomorrow's Washington Times the Twins disclose details of the Army's plans for their future:
Specialist(s) Bush's mission is to open an exclusive club in the Green Zone for Young Republicans attached the US Embassy in Baghdad and any soldiers that get past the Blackwater supplied bouncers at the front door. They plan to pattern the club after their favorite Washington night spot, NerveAnna. With a full time DJ and well drinks for only two dinar during happy hour. These spunky Specialists believe that they can substantially improve morale in Iraq.
Speaking of the twins, who nominally come under his command, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (Uncle Rummy to these two young soldiers) said, "in their own way, they may constitute an entire second front in the war on terror."

Speaking for Operation Yellow Elephant, General J.C. Christian enthusiastically endorsed the Twin's decision to join up and sounded the call to the Bush Twin's recalcitrant friends, "party at the bombed out tank, bring your own body armor!"