Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Cloture Failed

Sadly, but not unexpectedly, we took several steps towards the Orwellization of the US today. In other words, the Repugs were able to gain cloture on debate of the Alito nomination, which will go on to pass (barring nuclear war or a meteor strike- didja ever think those would sound like GOOD options?).

You can see how your Senators (or anyone else's) voted at the senate's site.

Monday, January 30, 2006

And So It Begins.... (Enron Edition)

Lay and Skilling head for court today. Is lynching still legal in Texas? Just wond'rin'......

Woodruff, Cameraman Seriously Injured

ABC anchor Bob Woodruff and cameraman were injured in an IED incident in Iraq earlier today. Both are reported alive but suffering serious head injuries. Details as they come.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

OHMIGOD! This is Funny.....

...but cruel. Comparing that poor kid to George ('Are you the worst president since James Buchanan, or have you never heard of him?') Bush!

(thanks to Molly Ivins for the 'quote')

Not Just Another Kodak Moment

The effort by the Bu$hCo White House to hide, destroy, obliterate, and just plain deny any 'George + Jack: BFF' pix out there continues unabated. Scott McClellan sounds more inane than usual (think about the effort required there!) stonewalling the WH press corps. And the hunt for pix (by both sides) goes on.

Josh at TalkingPoints has been tracking a couple of 'threads' in the story involving disappearing photos and is worth a read (of course, he's worth a read anytime!)

So Does Kerry... ACT NOW!

John Kerry has called for a filibuster. And as a kicker, is asking us to sign a petition/letter to Congress calling for such. AND, as a kicker, he'll enter the signatories names into the Congressional Record (maybe he'll read them from the floor, now THAT would be filibuster filler!!!)

If you want to help try and stop this judicial abortion from happening, go sign now.

http://www.johnkerry.com/action/alito

Times Calls For Alito Filibuster

The NYT called today for a filibuster of Alito.

Judge Samuel Alito Jr., whose entire history suggests that he holds extreme views about the expansive powers of the presidency and the limited role of Congress, will almost certainly be a Supreme Court justice soon. His elevation will come courtesy of a president whose grandiose vision of his own powers threatens to undermine the nation's basic philosophy of government — and a Senate that seems eager to cooperate by rolling over and playing dead.

...

The Alito nomination has been discussed largely in the context of his opposition to abortion rights, and if the hearings provided any serious insight at all into the nominee's intentions, it was that he has never changed his early convictions on that point. The judge — who long maintained that Roe v. Wade should be overturned — ignored all the efforts by the Judiciary Committee's chairman, Arlen Specter, to get him to provide some cover for pro-choice senators who wanted to support the nomination. As it stands, it is indefensible for Mr. Specter or any other senator who has promised constituents to protect a woman's right to an abortion to turn around and hand Judge Alito a potent vote to undermine or even end it.

But portraying the Alito nomination as just another volley in the culture wars vastly underestimates its significance. The judge's record strongly suggests that he is an eager lieutenant in the ranks of the conservative theorists who ignore our system of checks and balances, elevating the presidency over everything else. He has expressed little enthusiasm for restrictions on presidential power and has espoused the peculiar argument that a president's intent in signing a bill is just as important as the intent of Congress in writing it. This would be worrisome at any time, but it takes on far more significance now, when the Bush administration seems determined to use the cover of the "war on terror" and presidential privilege to ignore every restraint, from the Constitution to Congressional demands for information.

There was nothing that Judge Alito said in his hearings that gave any comfort to those of us who wonder whether the new Roberts court will follow precedent and continue to affirm, for instance, that a man the president labels an "unlawful enemy combatant" has the basic right to challenge the government's ability to hold him in detention forever without explanation. His much-quoted statement that the president is not above the law is meaningless unless he also believes that the law requires the chief executive to defer to Congress and the courts.

...

A filibuster is a radical tool. It's easy to see why Democrats are frightened of it. But from our perspective, there are some things far more frightening. One of them is Samuel Alito on the Supreme Court.


It's about more than dead babies. It's about a dead Constitution.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

1984

I've joked a couple of time that Bu$hCo has taken George Orwell's 1984 to heart as a text book, but listening to Mike Malloy read it on his radio show on Air America recently has really been startling. We're almost there, folks. Thoughtspeak is alive and well in DC and Rush-land. Oceania has always been(and apparently, will always be) at war. It's just spooky.

Zogby Poll: Impeach the Preznit

From the Lexington Herald-Leader (why is the only coverage in Kenfreakingtucky?):

The word "impeachment" is popping up increasingly these days and not just off the lips of liberal activists spouting predictable bumper-sticker slogans.

After the unfounded claims about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and recent news of domestic spying without warrants, mainstream politicians and ordinary voters are talking openly about the possibility that President Bush could be impeached. So is at least one powerful senator, Arlen Specter, R-Pa., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

So far, it's just talk. With Republicans controlling Congress, and memories still fresh of the bitter fight and national distraction inflamed by former President Clinton's 1998 impeachment, even the launching of an official inquiry is a very long shot.

But a poll released last week by Zogby International showed 52 percent of American adults thought Congress should consider impeaching Bush if he wiretapped U.S. citizens without court approval, including 59 percent of independents and 23 percent of Republicans. (The survey had a margin of error of 2.9 percentage points.)

Given those numbers, impeachment could become an issue in this fall's congressional elections, and dramatically raise the stakes. If Democrats win control of the House of Representatives, a leading proponent of starting an official impeachment inquiry, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., would become chairman of the House committee that could pursue it.

Kos Said It Best

Referencing this TalkingPoints post:

If this is true, holy crap!

Hillary, Is That You?

Apparently sensing the wind is blowing against Shrub (she's nothing if not right on top of things!), Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) came out swinging on the DOMESTIC SPYING PROGRAM.

"Obviously, I support tracking down terrorists. I think that's our obligation. But I think it can be done in a lawful way," the New York Democrat said..

...

"Their argument that it's rooted in the authority to go after al-Qaida is far-fetched," she said in an apparent reference to a congressional resolution passed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack. The Bush administration has argued that the resolution gave the president authority to order such electronic surveillance as part of efforts to protect the nation from terrorists.

"Their argument that it's rooted in the Constitution inherently is kind of strange because we have FISA and FISA operated very effectively and it wasn't that hard to get their permission," she said. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court was established by Congress to approve eavesdropping warrants, even retroactively, but Bush has argued that the process often takes too long.


The Bu$histas responded in typical fashion:

Bush and his political team have signaled that the eavesdropping program will be a campaign issue in November, part of a broader strategy to cast Democrats as weak on terrorism. "It is clear Hillary Clinton s more concerned with political attacks than substantive dialogue on how to fight and win the war on terror," said Republican Party spokesman Danny Diaz.

(WHO?)

...

She said money needed to fight and respond to terrorism has been denied states and cities. "The sense of urgency that marked the days and months following the 9/11 attacks has largely given way to politics as usual" in Washington, the senator said.

In the same Yahoo piece, she's quoted as going after the Preznit on healthcare too:

Pointing the Democratic-leaning crowd to the president's State of the Union address on Jan. 31, she said his message amounts to "You're on your own."

"We are shifting costs and shifting risks on to individuals and families and local governments," Clinton said. "Mayors, you're on your own to protect citizens. Senior citizens who were promised a prescription drug benefit are on their own to figure out how to access the complicated and confusing program. Three-and-a-half million children who will be affected by cuts to Medicaid are on their own."



Maybe she's getting back to her roots, or maybe she has secret tapes of Shrub burning a flag!

Rumsfeld: The Pentagon Is Lying

According to Mr Happiness, the Pentagon report that the military is under 'stretch-stress' is a pack of misinformation and out of date information. Well, Mr Rumsfeld, maybe you should find their boss and kick his ass!

More Healthcare Shenanigans

First, they try to wreck Social Security, then they throw a giant monkey wrench into Medicare (and bounce it off your grandma's head in the process), now, Bu$hCo is trying to fuck with the rest of our healthcare.

It appears that the 'keynote' of Shrub's upcoming State of the Union speech will be to announce a plan to phase in Healthcare Savings Accounts. While I don't argue that most of us probably should set aside something for a medical emergency (do as I say, not as I don't do!), HSAs, as proposed, have a raft problems attached to them. I will address the two I see as key problems.

1) They will increase medical insurance costs for the rest of us. HSA benefit primarily the young and the healthy. They have fewer medical problems and less need for medical insurance, so their contributions to insurance, by way of premiums, are probably higher than they would be in an absolutely flat system. This is, however, sort of the whole point of insurance. Everyone goes into a pool, which lowers the overall cost to everyone, and spreads the risk around. If the ones least likely to make use of the system are withdrawn, the costs for those left in the system will rise, and rise dramatically. Additionally, with the exception of employer provided healthcare, the young pay much less than the old for their insurance (pull up any private insurer to see the increasing premiums as you age), so it's not that out of balance to begin with. What will happen if HSAs become a reality is the the old, infirm, and poor, will be left out to die. But, hey!, they generally vote Dem anyway, so fuck 'em. Right?

2) Setting up an HSA system, as currently proposed, will exacerbate the main problem with medical care in America today: lack of preventative coverage. Insurers today are much more focused on covering solutions to problems rather than preventing problems from occuring. With the exception of basic checkups, most insurance programs don't cover prevention. If you're overweight, once you develop diabetes, you're covered; any medical attempts to help you prevent geting diabetes, weightloss programs, counseling, etc, are, for the most part, left to the patient to deal with.

The proposed system will exacerbate this. There is a human tendency to look at what we have and want to keep it, and ignore the might bes. A large number of people will ignore that nagging cough and not see the doctor, and if we have a financial 'reward' (ie, more money in the 'bank') for not going to see the doctor, then we're going to be even less likely to go. Once we start coughing up blood and lung cookies, THEN the doctor seems like a good idea. So we end up in the hospital for a week, when a shot of penicillin might have solved the problem.

A final note. Think about the GREAT ideas that have come out of Shrub's previous SOTUs: Iraq as an axis of evil needing to be overthrown, Social Security reform, and Medicare reform. Considering the rousing successes those pigs turned out to be, contemplate HSAs in that light.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Alito Out of Committee

It's not earthshaking news, but Alito's nomination was voted out of committee, 10-8, along strict party lines. This is, possibly, good news. If the Dems stick together, they can resist cloture, if they have the balls to filibuster. Two VERY BIG ifs.

More Good Military News (NOT)

I don't know if we're at the Rome-after-Teutoburg-Forest point yet, but Yahoo reports the Army is near, if not AT, the breaking point. Lack of recruits, lack of re-enlistment, bad management, low morale, it's a mess.

Rebuilderying

In typical fashion, the Bushistas and the Pentagon had bungled (in extremis) the $25+ billion rebulding project in Iraq. Little of note or substance has been done, and Iraq remains lightyears removed from it's 'second world' status before the war, and mired deep in the fourth-world-and-sinking neighborhood.

A lot of this is due to the typical internecine eat-your-you-and-kill-your-siblings mentality of the Pentagon where money is concerned. A lot is due to the monumental incompetence and venality (if not outright graft and corruption) of the BushCo administration. NYT has the details. Read it and weep.

Man the Freaking Barricades!!!!

WoW! NBC has cancelled West Wing! Take to the Streets!!! Burn down your local affiliate!!! Or, if you're picky about obeying laws and not getting arrested (wimp!), write or call your local affiliate and NBC in NY and let them know you're pissed!

Bumper Crop

Another banner day for WorkingforChange.com. Their 'columnists' today give us a bumper crop of good postings; the previously mentioned Molly Ivins post; E.J. Dionne on the right side (as in right/left, not right/wrong) of SCOTUS and the Oregon assisted-suicide law; Will Durst gives us a comical spin on the Repug lobbying 'reform' efforts; Sean Gonsalves gives us a piece on the effective beauty of language; Geov Parrish weighs in on Alito; and Byron Williams explains why he thinks Hillary's 'plantation' speech was bad form.

There's good stuff here everyday and they are tagged in the blogroll over on the rightside of the main page.

'No Longer Credible'

Molly Ivins has a great post today about how the BushCo Administration is no longer a credible source (were they ever?) and how we should move past just accepting what they say, and how the media should get over their apathy. Now, if we could just get the Traditional Media to read it.

Re: Network Neutrality

In a previous post, I touched on the brewing internet 'ownership' issue and how it will affect all of us. Timothy Karr, in his comment, gives a link to a site about the whole issue.

http://www.freepress.net/deadend/

Good site, lots of infos and links to more. And, a 'take action' link to send a letter of concern to your congressional reps and you ISP's CEO.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Thirty Freaking Six

According to ARG, their latest poll for Shrub shows his approval rating at 36% approve/ 58% disapprove. That's the good news for him- the bad news is that his approval ratings on the economy are even worse... 34/60 approve/disapprove.

With these numbers, and the general and growing disapproval for war and security handling, if the Dems can't make something happen this November, they should just disban (and be glad this is the US, not Japan, or seppuku might be called for!)

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Trouble Brewing for the Net?

Josh at Talking Points points to an interesting article in today's WaPo. The future of the 'free' internet as we know it may be at stake. I don't free as in no charge, but free as in unfettered by the directions of a technoligarchy. Read the article, ponder it for a bit, then write/call/fax/email your congresspeople and let them know you want to maintain network neutrality.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Trouble in River City?

GOP honcos are (no shit!) worried that rank and file faithful may be 'concerned' about corruption, out of control spending, rights trashing, etc (ad infinitum).

Damn!

Alaska's Ted Stevens, who promised to quit the Senate in a fit of pique over the defeat of ANWR drilling, has reneged. He won't quit after all! Whattasurprise!

New Improved WaPo

I haven't posted much about the WaPo flap over the readers comments being deleted mostly because it seemed so stupid and self-parodying. Well, the limits of parody had NOT been reached, until today. The General posts screenies of the 'new' Post site (parody/sarcasm/humor alert!)

Great Point

kos nails it.

Liberals haven't failed to capture Bin Laden

Fri Jan 20, 2006 at 09:32:16 AM PDT

The blowhards like Chris Matthews are orgasmic in their denunciations of liberals these days in the wake of the latest Osama Bin Laden tape.

But let's remember -- it's not liberal who are in power. It's been George Bush and his neocon pals. It is THEY who have failed to capture or kill Bin Laden. It is they who have made our country less safe, and created a world in which terrorist attacks have increased. It is they who are making a mess out of the war in Iraq, failing to provide our troops with basic necessities like body and vehicle armor.

This is a point so obvious, that really, it takes idiots like Chris Matthews and the Chickenhawks to fail to see it.

Georgia10 had a great post about it earlier. Also on the case are Crooks and Liars, John Aravosis, Digby, and Jane Hamsher. Matt Stoller writes:

This is not about Michael Moore, this is about what it means to be an American. Are we a country of strongmen who thrive on bullying and accusations of treason, or can we tolerate divergent views? Is the media about raw power and shouting ability, or is it about journalism? That's the question that Matthews must answer. Calling Americans treasonous murderers because of their political views has no place in American politics or journalism. Chris Matthews needs to apologize, now.

Even John Kerry has stepped in to defend Michael Moore, to his great credit.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Do What?

I don't know if there's anything to this at all, but it doesn't stretch the imagination all that much. Josh at Talking Points reports:

My capacity to be shocked at these folks is pretty strained at this point. But I'd be shocked by this one. Rep. Louise Slaughter is saying that DeLay and Frist had staffers day-trading out of their offices, working on inside info from lobbyists and legislators. I can't wait to see if there's meat on this bone.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Big Surprise

Okay, no surprise at all, actually. Human Rights Watch reports that the BushCo condoning of torture has made it harder to combat torture around the world. Damn, we're good at everything!

UK Prepped to Deny Torture Flights

The argument for the probability of torture flights gained ground today. According to the Guardian, the UK had plans and protocols to deny the existence of or their knowledge of the suspected CIA torture flights, many of which, reportedly, went thru the UK. If there were no flights, why would they need a systematic program to deny all knowledge?

Quote of the Day

One of my rss-feed is from the Quote of the Day people. Usually, the quotes are blah or of the endlesslyrepeated genre. These today caught my interest.

Oscar Wilde:

"America had often been discovered before Columbus, but it had always been hushed up."


John Lehman:

"Power corrupts. Absolute power is kind of neat."

Kurtz/Swiftboating

Howie Kurtz at WaPo has a good roundup of 'stuff' going on in the blogosphere (maybe he misses Dan Froomkin?), but misses the key point of his lede.

His post the other day, covering the CNS bushwa 'swiftboating' of Rep. Murtha was basically a CNS press release. He failed to mention the background/motivation/lack of veracity of CNS in general, and the odd similarity in tone, content, and timing to CNS 'revelations' of the 'charges' against Kerry in '04. He starts to address this today, mentions briefly some of the info about CNS and it's operatives (I won't call them reporters), then veers off in a giddy whirl thru Blogistan.

Nice try, Howie, but try again, okay?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Quote of the Day

From my birthday mate, Ben Franklin:

Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.
Think NSA. Think PATRIOT Act. Think misleading intelligence to drum up a war. Think bedwetting Repug weenies. Just THINK!

Medicare Plan A Disaster

As expected.

Happy Birthday

Reddragyn: 52
Muhammad Ali: 63
Ben Franklin: 300

52 down, 248 to go :)

Oregon Assisted-Suicide Law Upheld

The Supremes, by a 6-3 vote, upheld Oregon's assisted-suicide law. The dissenters, no surprise, were the wingnuts (Scalia, 'Uncle' Thomas, and Roberts). On this one, at least, ScAlito would not have made a difference (lets hope the other 5 can hold on till '08)

Monday Roundup

I was busy yesterday with bf pre-celebrating my birthday (If I'd known I was gonna live this long, I'd have taken better care of myself!) so I missed posting on a couple of thing.

GORE

Ol Al gave a heckuva speech yesterday. If you missed it, go read it:

http://rawstory.com/news/2005/Text_of_Gore_speech_0116.html

ACLU Files Suit

Dont have the link for this anymore, but two groups, including the ACLU, have filed suit against the Shrubs over the NSA spying fiasco.

Speaking of the NSA Fiasco

The Times reports that, despite Bush's claims that it was limited, the snooping was MUCH broader than originally thought, and including spying on DOMESTIC calls as well. Despite it's breadth, however, the snooping has apparently been a complete failure. MSNBC also has the story.

Just When You Thought It Was Safe

Must be election season, again. A ranking DHS official gives an interview to a British paper and says a future WMD attack is inevitable and we should all be very very afraid (and of course, support the Preznit and the Repugs).

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Let It Not Be So

Atrios has a bleak of the year ahead:

How It Goes

Winter/Spring - The clone army of foreign policy "experts" from conservative foreign policy outfits nobody ever heard of before suddenly appear on all the cable news programs all the time, frowning furiously and expressing concerns about the "grave threat" that Iran poses. Never before heard of Iranian exile group members start appearing regularly, talking about their role in the nuclear program and talking up Iran's human rights violations.

Spring/Summer - "Liberal hawks" point out that all serious people understand the serious threat posed by serious Iran, and while they acknowledge grudgingly that the Bush administration has fucked up everything it touches, they stress, and I mean stress, that we really must support the Bush administration's serious efforts to deal with the serious problem and that criticisms of such serious approaches to a serious problem are highly irresponsible and come only from irrational very unserious Bush haters who would rather live in Iran than the U.S.

Late Summer - Rumsfeld denies having an Iran war plan "on his desk." He refuses to answer if he has one "in his file cabinet." Andy Card explains that you don't roll out new product until after labor day.

Early Fall - Bush suddenly demands Congress give him the authority to attack Iran to ensure they "disarm." Some Democrats have the temerity to ask "with what army?" Marshall Wittman and Peter Beinart explain that courageous Democrats will have the courageous courage to be serious and to confront the "grave threat" with seriousness and vote to send other peoples' kids off to war, otherwise they'll be seen as highly unserious on national security. Neither enlists.

Late October - Despite the fact that all but 30 Democrats vote for the resolution, Republicans run a national ad campaign telling voters that Democrats are objectively pro-Ahmadinejad. Glenn Reynolds muses, sadly, that Democrats aren't just anti-war, but "on the other side." Nick Kristof writes that liberals must support the war due to Ahmadinejad's opposition to gay rights in Iran.

Election Day - Democrats lose 5 seats in the Senate, 30 in the House. Marshall Wittman blames it on the "pro-Iranian caucus."

The Day After Election Day - Miraculously we never hear another word about the grave Iranian threat. Peter Beinart writes a book about how serious Democrats must support the liberation of Venezuela and Bolivia.

Pakistan Pissed

When I first heard about the airstrikes on the Pakistani border yesterday, my first thought was in this day of computer assisted everything and GPS, how could those morons miss that badly? Then, as the day and the story developed, we learned that we had AIMED at Pakistani targets. My first thought then was how could we be so stupid?

Then, it turns out we were aiming at Al Zawahiri, and my first thought was bet we killed ten pregnant women, children, and some goats, but no terrorists. And, according to Pakistan, my third first thoughts were pretty accurate. Apparently, the tips the CIA was acting on were just a little off.

I have a tip for the CIA drone operators. Zawahiri will be at Rumsfeld's office today at 1, then at Blair House, at 2, and Oval Office at 3. Do with the information what you will.

Parrish on MLK

One of the nice things about my birthday being in mid January is that the government charmingly providing a holiday for me. Another reason to be grateful for Dr. King.

I grew up in the south, well, Texas, but for fifties and sixties racism purposes, it was part of the Old South. When I was a kid, there were still segregated lunch counters and separate restrooms. My parents were 'carpetbaggers', having moved to Dallas from Illinois and Pennsylvania, so my upbringing taught me this was wrong. But I vividly remember being pretty much alone, in those days, in my hometown, in that thinking. It may be why I'm so liberal today.

One of my heroes then, and now, was Dr. King. His quiet dignity and forceful determination were, and are, an inspiration to me. Geov Parrish has a great post today on him and his legacy, and the future of his legacy. Let's honor it and him.

The saddest loss in the modern narrative of Dr. King's career is the story of who he was: a man without wealth, without elected office, who managed as a single individual to change the world simply through the strength of his moral convictions. His power came from his faith, and his willingness to act on what he knew to be right. That story could inspire many millions to similar action -- if only it were told. We could each be Dr. King.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Risen And Downing Street

Note: I have not yet read the book. But TomPaine indicates that Risen's book offers substantive reporting that supports the Downing Street memo's indictments that Bush planned the war and worked the intelligence to support the plan long before the supposed decision was taken (10 points to anyone that can diagram that sentence!)

James Risen’s State of War: the Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration, may hold bigger secrets than the disclosure that President George W. Bush authorized warrantless eavesdropping on Americans.

Risen’s book also confirms the most damning element of the British Cabinet Office memos popularly called the “Downing Street memos;” namely, that “the intelligence and the facts were being fixed around the policy.” The result is that it is no longer credible to maintain that the failures in the Iraqi intelligence were the product of a broken intelligence community. The Bush administration deliberately fabricated the case against Iraq, lying to Congress and the American people along the way.

...

The highly revealing Downing Street memo contained the minutes of Dearlove's briefing of Blair and his top advisers upon his return from Washington on July 23. But what the memo left unanswered was the question of who gave Dearlove the confidence to say this to his prime minister:

Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and the facts were being fixed around the policy.


...

The president now says that he does not want his political opposition to dwell on how he lied to Congress and the American people in order to invade a country and kill tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians and more than 2,200 U. S. troops—not to mention the many thousands maimed for life. Perhaps he knows that Risen's book could do as much damage to his administration by calling renewed attention to the Downing Street memos as is likely to be done by the revelations of the secret NSA wiretapping.

Risen And Downing Street

Note: I have not yet read the book. But TomPaine indicates that Risen's book offers substantive reporting that supports the Downing Street memo's indictments that Bush planned the war and worked the intelligence to support the plan long before the supposed decision was taken (10 points to anyone that can diagram that sentence!)

James Risen’s State of War: the Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration, may hold bigger secrets than the disclosure that President George W. Bush authorized warrantless eavesdropping on Americans.

Risen’s book also confirms the most damning element of the British Cabinet Office memos popularly called the “Downing Street memos;” namely, that “the intelligence and the facts were being fixed around the policy.” The result is that it is no longer credible to maintain that the failures in the Iraqi intelligence were the product of a broken intelligence community. The Bush administration deliberately fabricated the case against Iraq, lying to Congress and the American people along the way.

...

The highly revealing Downing Street memo contained the minutes of Dearlove's briefing of Blair and his top advisers upon his return from Washington on July 23. But what the memo left unanswered was the question of who gave Dearlove the confidence to say this to his prime minister:

Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and the facts were being fixed around the policy.


...

The president now says that he does not want his political opposition to dwell on how he lied to Congress and the American people in order to invade a country and kill tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians and more than 2,200 U. S. troops—not to mention the many thousands maimed for life. Perhaps he knows that Risen's book could do as much damage to his administration by calling renewed attention to the Downing Street memos as is likely to be done by the revelations of the secret NSA wiretapping.

Glenn Greenwald

...has a great post on liberty and justice for all, while shoving Jonah Goldberg's words right up his ass (always a good thing!)

It is truly nauseating to watch the basic principles of our country, which have preserved both liberty and stability with unprecedented brilliance over the last 200 years, be inexorably whittled away and treated like petty nuisances by the depraved Jonah Goldbergs among us. It is a mindset based on a truly toxic brew of glib self-absorption, sickly laziness and profound ignorance, and it is being easily manipulated by an Administration which is demanding -- and acquiring -- more and more power in exchange for coddling and protecting the little Jonah Goldbergs of the world.

Breaking The Law Is the President's Job?

Latest insanity from the massively insane Chris Matthews. Dontcha LOVE Fox?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

With A Bang AND A Whimper

And so the hearings close up shop and fade into the mushroom patch. Thank god. Five more minutes of Graham or Sessions or Biden and I'd have had to cut my throat. Once again, we're reminded that in our system, we can only seem to elect moronic self servers, who wouldnt know a follow up question if it walked up, introduced itself and then shot them in the ass, but who can make a thirty minute speech about nothing while asking a question about nothing, but insuring their full allotment of screen time.

At no point in this monumental clusterfuck did Alito do anything to make anyone think that his thinking isn't laid out in his life, his actions, and his rulings. As such, he is shown to be, by the most precise dictionary definition, a fascist. Every atom in him sings for corporate government (not to be confused, EVER, with corporate governANCE!), for government power (whatever happened to 'conservative'Repugs?), for the exclusion of the common citizen from the seats of power, for everything the Founders fought against, and that he should, as a Supreme Court Justice, be fighting for. At no point did he give an answer that actually addressed a legal issue, or legal theory. Mostly he dodged and danced and waited for wifeypoo to cry.

The country is in enough danger at the moment, from within as much as from without. This administration is determined to manufacture Imperial power for the country AND for the President; they've failed miserably at the first, but are having more success at the second. And, ironically, their failure to build an American empire may weaken the structure enough that they can push through their dreams of an Imperial president (just sans an Empire to rule....)

Alito on the Court will only enhance their prospects of pulling this off. Let me say this slowly FUCK ROE! This is about much, much more than just Roe. This is about every right everyone of us has ever possessed. We don't think about it much, but all that stand between us and losing them, is the Supreme Court keeping the Executive in check on the legal front. With Scalia and Thomas on the Court already, and Alito on his way, that's one third of the Court as absolutely, total, certified-loonie wingnuts (slightly more than the general pop, dontcha think?)

Get on the phone. Break out your email client. Call, write, visit, your Senators and make them understand that this man should not, MUST not, serve on the court.

Crybabies Everywhere

It's bad enough we're hip deep in crybaby chickenhawks, defecating in fear all over the constitution, now we get crying chickenhawk fascist nominee spousal crybabies. The (I am sure) delicate and demure Mrs Alito had to leave the committee room in tears during the harsh, almost devilish torture of her husband by ummmmmmm Lindsay Graham?!?!?!

Yes, the same Graham who (illegally... at the very least unethically) helped prep BenAlito for the hearings. The poor thing must have just had it building up all day. She didnt burst into tears during Kennedy, or Schumer, or even Specter. Only during Pavlov's .... er Graham's session. Very interesting.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Cenk Uygur

echoes my fears on Alito.

More Alito

After insulting the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Arlen Specter (not a bad thing, but maybe not the best tactical move), Alito spent the rest of the day playing dodgeball on the abortion issue. This man must be defeated; on virtually every issue, he's a fascist of the first order- backs a stronger government presence, supports a near imperial presidency, questions one man-one vote, opposes Roe, always backs big biz over the individual, and on and on and on.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Alito Hearings

I'm not going to commment in depth on the blow by blow of the Alito hearings (I just can't bear to watch the snake in action.) However, if you like that sort of thing, dailykos is running commentary throughout the day to cover it. firedoglake is covering it in depth also.

Great Columns

I discovered Working For Change's site a long time ago, when I was trying to find Molly Ivins online. They have a great collection of progressive columnists, many of which have been quoted and/or linked to on here. Today was a true cornucopia of riches on their site.

E.J. Dionne has a great column on Iraq and the similarities to Somalia. Molly talks about political corruption and why we shouldn't give up. Geov Parrish explains why (and how) Alito MUST go.Cynthia Tucker lays into the right over hypocrisy (not that the left isnt afflicted sometimes, but we don't seem to have institutionalized it in the same metaprofessional fashion!) Finally, Byron Williams talks about democracy in action (as opposed to recent Democratic inaction.)

Go read em, and if you feel so inclined, check out WfC's phone service while you're at it.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Back Where We Started

After five wunnerful years of our Beloved Preznit's leadership, the Dow has staggered back to where it was when he took over (take that phrase any way you choose!) Wasn't Clinton the bugaboo that business loved to hate, and didn't the Dow basically triple while he was in charge? So, shouldn't our pro-biz Preznit be even better for the market? Admittedly, 9/11 took a chunk out of the market and kept everyone a little down, but that was four years ago, and we've had one marvelous victory and success after another since then to buoy it back up.

Well, now that we've reached equilibrium, maybe there will be some more movement upwards. Lets see, at this point, just to match historic rates of return for Bush's regnum, the market will have to hit approx 24000 in the next three years. Good luck with that one, Shrub.

Et Tu, Ma Bell?

Democrats.com is advocating tele-war against the Repugs. I think this is a brilliant idea. Let's all get busy, track down some numbers, and see who's been talking to whom. This should cause some squealing about privacy rights from these bastards who never met a phone they wouldn't tap!

If This Weren't So Unconstitutional....

... it would be funny. Can someone in Congress give us a definition of 'annoy' that wouldn't put the whole of Congress into jail twice a day? Does Congress grasp the meaning of the first amendment? (I guess the question is 'will the roberts' court grasp the meaning?')

Althouse and Hindraker are breathing easier now; they can just have all those pesky commenters arrested. On the other hand, will Little Green Footballs be able to exist with its entire commenting corps in jail? On the other other hand, who gives a fuck?

Atrios Nails It

Fight

Yglesias says there isn't much reason to fight Alito in the grand scheme of things. I think this is wrong. First, no senator is going to lose an election 11 months from now because they fought to oppose Sammy "Who?" Alito. Second, one reason to not oppose Alito is the idea that Bush'll just nominate someone just as bad. However, Alito is that bad, as he believes Bush is King, your daughter can be strip searched without a warrant, the uterus is state property, and his enthusiastic embrace of that which we call "lying" demonstrates him to be pretty much an ethics free opportunist (at best).

On issues like this Democrats too often seem to think their job isn't to do the right thing, or convince voters they're doing the right thing, but to convince the Brodereseque crowd inside the Beltway that they're doing the right thing, whatever that is. And, frankly, who gives a shit what Fred Hiatt thinks?

Alito's a bad guy, he should be opposed. As for the "nuclear option," well, if the Republicans want to wrap themselves in the constitution as a pretense for cheating I say let them. It's long past time for the Democrats to stop playing the faux civility game in the Senate.

Someone Wake Me...

...when that fucking moron, Jeff Sessions, is through sucking Alito's dick! Geez

NYT Opines on Alito Hearings

Pretty good overview of Alito, his opinions, and the problems arising from them.

Judicial nominations are not always motivated by ideology, but the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito certainly was. President Bush's previous choice to fill Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's seat on the Supreme Court, Harriet Miers, was hounded into withdrawing by the far right, primarily because she appeared to hold moderate views on a variety of legal issues. President Bush placated Ms. Miers's conservative critics by nominating Judge Alito, who has long been one of their favorites.

Judge Alito's confirmation hearings begin tomorrow. He may be able to use them to reassure the Senate that he will be respectful of rights that Americans cherish, but he has a lengthy and often troubling record he will have to explain away. As a government lawyer, he worked to overturn Roe v. Wade. He has disturbing beliefs on presidential power - a critical issue for the country right now. He has worked to sharply curtail Congress's power to pass laws and protect Americans. He may not even believe in "one person one vote."

The White House has tried to create an air of inevitability around Judge Alito's confirmation. But the public is skeptical. In a new Harris poll, just 34 percent of those surveyed said they thought he should be confirmed, while 31 percent said he should not, and 34 percent were unsure. Nearly 70 percent said they would oppose Judge Alito's nomination if they thought he would vote to make abortion illegal - which it appears he might well do.

If President Bush had chosen a pragmatic, mainstream conservative like Justice O'Connor to fill the seat, these confirmation hearings would be a breeze. But now, the Senate has a duty to delve into the many areas in which Judge Alito's record suggests he is an extremist, including:

ABORTION Judge Alito has not only opposed Roe v. Wade, he has also worked to overturn it. When he applied for a promotion in the Reagan administration in 1985, he wrote that he was "particularly proud" of his legal arguments "that the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion." In meetings with senators, Judge Alito has talked about his respect for Roe, but he has said nothing to discourage his supporters on the religious right who back him because they believe he will vote to overturn it. The American people have a right to know, unambiguously, where Judge Alito stands on Roe.

PRESIDENTIAL POWER The continuing domestic wiretapping scandal shows that the Bush administration has a dangerous view of its own powers, and the Supreme Court is the most important check on such excesses. But Judge Alito has some disturbing views about handing the president even more power. He has argued that courts interpreting statutes should consider the president's intent when he signed the law to be just as important as Congress's intent in writing and passing the law. It is a radical suggestion that indicates he has an imperial view of presidential power.

CONGRESSIONAL POWER While Judge Alito seems intent on expanding the president's power, he has called for sharply reducing the power of Congress. In United States v. Rybar, he wrote a now-infamous dissent arguing that Congress exceeded its power in passing a law that banned machine guns. As a Reagan administration lawyer, he argued that Congress did not have the power to pass the Truth in Mileage Act to protect consumers from odometer fraud.

ONE PERSON ONE VOTE Judge Alito said in his 1985 application that he had become interested in constitutional law as a student partly because of his opposition to the Warren court's reapportionment rulings, which created the "one person one vote" standard. He seems to still have believed as a 35-year-old lawyer that these cases, which made legislative districts much more fair, came out the wrong way.

There are other areas - including civil rights, sex discrimination, the environment and criminal law - where Judge Alito's record appears extreme. The Senate should question him closely on all of them.

The Senate should also explore Judge Alito's honesty. According to a senator he met with, he tried to dismiss his statement about the Constitution's not protecting abortion as merely part of a job application, which suggests he will bend the truth when it suits his purposes. Judge Alito has said he does not recall being in an ultraconservative group called Concerned Alumni of Princeton, which opposed co-education and affirmative action. That is odd, since he boasted of his membership in that same 1985 job application. The tortuous history of his promise to Congress to recuse himself in cases involving the Vanguard companies, which he ultimately failed to do, should also be explored.

Judge Alito's nomination is often presented as an abortion rights showdown, but it is much more than that. Those who care about the broad range of rights and liberties that Americans now have, and about honesty in government, should tune into the hearings starting tomorrow - and call their senators with their reactions to what they hear.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Alito-thon

AP has the schedule for this week's entertainment.

Monday:

Noon EST: The committee convenes and senators begin 10-minute opening statements.

3:15 p.m.: afternoon break.

3:45 p.m.: Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey and former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman introduce Alito.

4 p.m.: Alito is sworn in and makes opening statement.

Tuesday:

9:30 a.m.: Questioning begins with each of the committee's 18 senators getting a 30-minute round. It will continue into night, with a dinner break from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Wednesday:

9:30 a.m.: 20-minute rounds of questioning Alito begin.

7 p.m. Questioning resumes after a dinner break. If questioning is completed, the committee will go into closed session to review Alito's FBI background check.

Thursday:

9:30 a.m.: More questioning of Alito or closed session if necessary. Questioning of outside witnesses.

Friday:

The confirmation hearing continues, if necessary.

Monday, Jan. 16:

Martin Luther King Jr. holiday; no committee meeting.

Tuesday, Jan. 17:

The committee meets.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

BushCo Does Not Support Troops

A secret report from the Pentagon, uncovered in yesterday's NYT, reveals that 8 out of 10 Marines killed (by upper body wounds) in Iraq, would have been saved by proper (ie, regulation) body armor. No plan, no clue, and now, no armor for the troops. Impeach the lot of 'em.

Don't Let The Door Hit Ya

Tom DeLay has announced he will not seek re-election as House Majority Leader (cuz ya know, it's so hard to manage the House from behind bars).


(When I first typed that, I typed 'Minority Leader'.... talk about Freudian slips) ;)

Newsweek on Snoopgate

Newsweek has an excellent online column about why the admin was so carried with its desire to go ahead with the NSA wiretap/data mining program. The title says it all: Because We Can. The neocon cabal behind the admin is convinced that executive power has waned since the 'good old days' (ie, Nixon, when most of these crooks were cutting their eye-teeth politically) and wants to force the country (or at least, Congress and SCOTUS) to yield some of it back. Perhaps, not altogether a bad idea, but not with these bozos in charge.

The article misses what, to me, is the main problem with the illegal program. Whether or not the Preznit had the authority to do all this, the wiretaps are still, STATUTORILY, illegal. And as such, any evidence uncovered in the course of them, or arising out them, is patently illegal and inadmissable in a criminal trial. This, in the long run, weakens, not strengthens, the government's hand, in that even if they uncover something, they can't prosecute it (I guess extra-legal hit squads are next?). Additionally, every prosecution by the feds in the last four plus years is going to be revisited, to determine if evidence in the trials was obtained by illegal means. This is just a mess, but then, isn't everything these bozos touches?

Friday, January 06, 2006

Cunningham Wired

According to Time, disgraced Repug Rep. Randy 'Duke' Cunningham wore a wire in the period prior to the announcement of his plea deal. Needless to say, sphincters all over DC (and probably Southern Cal) are so puckered, they're interfering with breathing.

Sources familiar with the situation say Cunningham, a California Republican who pleaded guilty Nov. 28 to taking $2.4 million in bribes — including a yacht, a Rolls Royce and a 19th Century Louis-Philippe commode — from a defense contractor, wore a wire at some point during the short interval between the moment he began cooperating with the feds and the announcement of his guilty plea on Nov. 28.

The identity of those with whom the San Diego congressman met while wearing the wire remains unclear, and is the source of furious — and nervous — speculation by congressional Republicans. A Cunningham lawyer, K. Lee Blalack, refused to confirm or deny the story, and wouldn't say whether Cunningham will implicate any other members of Congress. The FBI is believed to be continuing its probe of defense contractors involved in the Cunningham case. An FBI spokesman declined comment. Asked whether Cunningham, an ace Navy fighter pilot decorated for his service in Vietnam, had worn a wire, the spokesman said the response from a higher-up was, "Like I'd tell you."

End of Pensions?

Bellweather IBM has announced it is ending its pension plan. This could be the final nail in the coffin of the pension as we know it.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

NSA Targeting Reporters?

John at Americablog has an interesting post on a comment Andrea Mitchell made (actually a question she asked) that initially appeared in a transcript on MSNBC, then disappeared. The question, and MSNBC's response, indicate they are working on a story that the NSA was spying on Christiane Amanpour of CNN. Her husband did work for Kerry during the election, so if indeed, they were spying on Christiane, they were also (inadvertently?) spying on a Kerry Campaign operative. This has potential to be BIG.

Scroll thru Americablog for more.

Harman Says NSA, Admin Broke Law in Hearings

Jane Harman, ranking Dem on the House Intel cmte., says it's her opinion that the NSA broke the law in hearings before her committee by not being forthcoming and honest.

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee told President Bush Wednesday that the White House broke the law by withholding information from the full congressional oversight committees about a new domestic surveillance program.

In a letter to Bush, Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., said the National Security Act requires the heads of the various intelligence agencies to keep the entire House and Senate intelligence committees "fully and currently informed of the intelligence activities of the United States."


Oh Goodie!

Las Vegas' flamboyant mayor, Oscar Goodman, is apparently contemplating a run at the Senate. I don't always agree with him, but I like him personally a lot. If nothing else, it'll make it a fun race (and Ensign is apparently weak in the polls, so there's a shot at a seat pickup too).

Iraq PM Struggle Continues

With the power struggle continuing to determine who will be Iraq's new Prime Minister, Time Online explains why it doesn't matter all that much. Short version: they all suck.

100 Dead in Iraq

More violence in Iraq. Bombers killed over a hundred in a series of attacks around the country today. A Shiite mosque in Karbala and a police substation in Ramadi were among the targets. 5 US soldiers were also killed in a separate attack.

Looks like the magic of democracy at work.

$1-2 TRILLION

According to this post on TPM Cafe, the war in Iraq will have costs not of the $100-200 billion poopooed earlier by BushCo, but more in the neighborhood of $1 trillion, maybe as much as $2 trillion. This includes lost opportunity costs and costs associated with caring for the seriously (and in many cases permanently) wounded. Amazing.

“Shortly before the war, when Administration economist Larry Lindsey suggested that the costs might range between $100 and $200 billion, Administration spokesmen quickly distanced themselves from those numbers,” points out Professor Stiglitz. “But in retrospect, it appears that Lindsey’s numbers represented a gross underestimate of the actual costs.”

Look Out, Chavez!

Pat's aim is improving! Apparently, Ariel Sharon's stroke-a-thon is GOD's retribution for divvying up Israel with the Phillistines.

Breaking News
Robertson: Sharon punished for dividing Israel
The Rev. Pat Robertson said Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is being punished by God for dividing the Land of Israel. Robertson, speaking on the “700 Club” on Thursday, suggested Sharon, who is currently in an induced coma, and former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, assassinated by an Israeli extremist in 1995, were being treated with enmity by God for dividing Israel. “He was dividing God’s land,” Robertson said. “And I would say, Woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the E.U., the United Nations or the United States of America. God says, This land belongs to me. You better leave it alone.”

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Mine Disaster

I'm not sure what all the flap is about the announcements at the mine disaster in WV. I understand the anger of the families, but not the incessant shouting of the media over it. So, there was a major miscommunication over the survivor vs deceased in the tunnel; given the working conditions and trying to relay communications more than a mile while underground, I'd say communications breakdowns would be the norm.

What is more interesting is the stats that some have been posting (see Political Animal) about the relative safety of SAGO mine and other mines in WV and around the country. The huge jump in injuries/deaths at SAGO vs other mines might be a better thing to investigate than whether the rescue teams jumped the gun in their announcement.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Time On Snoopgate

Time Online has a series of articles worth reading on the Snoopgate mess, here, here, and here.

Wow!

The snoopgate situation may predate Shrub's authorization. Per the NYT:

The National Security Agency acted on its own authority, without a formal directive from President Bush, to expand its domestic surveillance operations in the weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, according to declassified documents released Tuesday.

The N.S.A. operation prompted questions from a leading Democrat, Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, who said in an Oct. 11, 2001, letter to a top intelligence official that she was concerned about the agency's legal authority to expand its domestic operations, the documents showed.

...

Ms. Pelosi, then the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said, "I am concerned whether, and to what extent, the National Security Agency has received specific presidential authorization for the operations you are conducting."

The answer, General Hayden suggested in his response to Ms. Pelosi a week later, was that it had not. "In my briefing," he wrote, "I was attempting to emphasize that I used my authorities to adjust N.S.A.'s collection and reporting."

It is not clear whether General Hayden referred at the briefing to the idea of warrantless eavesdropping. Parts of the letters from Ms. Pelosi and General Hayden concerning other specific aspects of the spy agency's domestic operation were blacked out because they remain classified. But officials familiar with the uncensored letters said they referred to other aspects of the domestic eavesdropping program.



Panic in Needle Park

The 'junkies' in DC are apanicking! Their pusher is squealing!

'Screw New Orleans.....'

... at least we saved I-10. Makes you wonder where the city would be if they'd spent half the time and energy trying to get NOLA back on it's feet they did getting the interstate up and running.

Now, I grew up in Dallas, and spent a LOT of time in New Orleans (and I guarantee you I had more fun there that I've forgotten than Preznit Numbnuts ever did), and will admit freely that getting I-10 up and running is/was crucial to getting New Orleans back. I just don't feel the urgency coming from the feds (more the opposite) to restore the city that I sense in the reconstruction of a freaking hunk of concrete and steel.

Abramoff Cops

It's official- Abramoff pleaded out this morning. Josh has the CI at Talking Points. According to WaPo analysis, he has copped to three felony charges, conspiracy, fraud, and tax evasion Potential sentencing of up to 30 years is expected to be about a third of that, depending on his co-operation in other prosecutions. (RUN CONGRESS!!!RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!!) Additional, he is expected to be fined $25million and approximately $7million in IRS penalties.

The only Congressman referenced in the Criminal Information filed this morning appears to be Bob Ney (R-Ohio), altho speculation abounds that several, if not many, more may end up implicated in the mess. Abramoff had his hands in the pies of quite a few Congressmen, including poor, put-upon Tom Delay, who is fighting other charges down in Austin, TX.

Republican Party Circuit Devastated!

International Ban on Caviar Trade!!! Maybe Abramoff lucked out, his parties would be so drab now!

Bush as Theater

Sherman Yellen has a fascinating post on HuffPo about Bush, couched in terms of theatricality. Not the theatricallity of of standing in front of photo-op backgrounds or aircraft carriers, but of Shakespeare, Moliere, and Ibsen. A really fascinating, and depressing, read.

I doubt that there will ever be a great play called "The Tragedy of George Bush." As a playwright, I find a problem with Bush as a dramatic character in a serious drama. Although he is perfectly suited for satire, he is now caught up in a tragic national drama, the Iraq war, and it is as if Shakespeare's Bottom had stumbled into Hamlet by mistake and taken over the stage.

...

The closest that true drama has ever come to a leader such as Bush is that of Shakespeare's Henry V, the wastrel inheritor of the English crown who puts aside his carousing, abandons his friend Falstaff, and takes his nation into a war with France. But Henry's character is buoyed up by his eloquence, ennobled by his courage and his love of England. Nobody can accuse George Bush of eloquence or locate his courage and love of country as he labors to strip it of its natural wonders, and sell his power to its worst exploiters. What he shares with Henry V is a ruthless ambition wed to a sense of royal entitlement. As Henry exploited his soldier's patriotism, Bush exploits his nation's fears. Our unwatched borders, unguarded ports, and unarmed Humvees tell their own story about this President as our protector.

Like most incurious people Bush starts with a belief and then searches desperately for the evidence to support it. This faith-based approach to the world is one that most often has tragic consequences for others, rarely for the man himself, protected by his power and by the fear he has exploited in others. Bush is many things, but he is not insincere. It is delusional to believe that he does not believe what he says. In his heart of hearts he still believes that there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to be found if only we had the right dogs to sniff them out.

...

Our political history is filled with complex characters that provide the material for great drama. Lyndon Johnson -- for all his buffoonery -- was a figure worthy of a great tragedy. He started with the noble goals of Civil Rights and a Great Society that would embrace all, and ended with a war that destroyed his presidency and cost thousands of young men their lives. Even Dick Nixon had his own malignant grandeur, a true fall from grace, or at least a fall from power through the very trickery that had brought him to power. It was no small achievement of his to reach out to China and to implement much of Johnson's Great Society. But this kind of accomplishment under a flawed leader cannot happen under George Bush. As Gertrude Stein famously said of California, "there is no there there."


(Actually, I think it was just Oakland she was referring to, not ALL of CA)

Monday, January 02, 2006

Fareed on Education, China, and the Future

In the 1/9 issue of Newsweek (and online), Fareed Zakaria examines the emphasis on education in Asia, its results, and the consequences, for them, and for us.

Russia and Germany Argue Over Gas

In the opening scenes of the new Bond flick.... oh no, wait, it's from Reuters.... Germany warned Russia over its decision to cut off gas supplies to Ukraine. Angered over a four fold price rise (from Soviet era prices) and possible Ukrainian diversion of supplies for it's own use, Russia shut off the flow to Ukraine. It seems unlikely this will lead to violence, but it shows Russia's lack of real movement into the G8 world (Russia assumes the Presidency of the G8 ) and the inherent instability in all the states of the old USSR even a decade on.

UPDATE: Russia has agreed to ship additional gas to Western Europe, responding to (primarily German) pressure.

No War for ummm Sludge?

If, as some suggest, BushCo invaded Iraq to gain control of the oil, they've done their usual fine job of it. According to the Beeb, Iraqi Oil exports have hit a new post-war low. (of course, new lows is what we've come to expect from the Shrub and his cohorts) And who's going to fix the situation? The only man in the whole Iraq-war-fiasco with lower credibility than W! Your pal and mine (if we've got something worth stealing, of course)....... Ahmed Chalabi!

Last month's exports totalled 1.1 million barrels per day, down from November's 1.2 million figure.

Shamkhi Faraj, the government's director general of economics and oil marketing, blamed the fall on the security situation.

He added that bad weather at southern ports was also a contributory factor.

This halted exports for more than a week last month.

...

Last Friday, Iraqi Oil Minister Ibrahim Bahr al-Uloum was temporarily released from his post amid a dispute over the government's petrol pricing policy.

Mr Bahr al-Uloum had publicly objected to the Iraqi government's decision to raise petrol prices threefold.

He was replaced by Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Chalabi.

On Monday Mr Uloum submitted his resignation.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Obsessive Brushclearing....

...and why it's important. Digby has a fascinating post about Bush, incompetence, and tumbleweed maintenance.

More on Domestic Spying

georgia10 at DailyKos has a great post on the same NYT article as Steve. Snarky but insightful.

Let's put it all together, now that we have a clearer picture. Bush's citizen spying program uses the same standard of probable cause, just like FISA. But instead of having to present actual evidence of that probable cause to a judge, his program set up the McDonald's drive-thru of the intelligence world. Agents would approach whomever was on shift at the time, place their order to spy on Citizen X, and get their approval lickety-split. Gonzales and Miers would peek in every month or so to do a once-over, to make sure everything was clean and there were no rats and such. But for the large part, the program ran with no oversight, no inspection, and no limits. Despite the fact that several high-level officials repeatedly expressed concerns about the program's legality, Bush kept the program alive. He's still refusing to end it. So the program is still open: warrantless, illegal searches of Americans, served up piping hot on demand.

OOOPS!!!

I forgot!

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYBODY!

DOJ May Not Have Been That Enthusiastic

...over warrantless wiretapping. In an excellent post by Steve Benen, subbing for Kevin, quoting from an extensive article in the NYT, we learn that:

"The concerns prompted two of President Bush's most senior aides - Andrew H. Card Jr., his chief of staff, and Alberto R. Gonzales, then White House counsel and now attorney general - to make an emergency visit to a Washington hospital in March 2004 to discuss the program's future and try to win the needed approval from Attorney General John Ashcroft, who was hospitalized for gallbladder surgery, the officials said.

The unusual meeting was prompted because Mr. Ashcroft's top deputy, James B. Comey, who was acting as attorney general in his absence, had indicated he was unwilling to give his approval to certifying central aspects of the program, as required under the White House procedures set up to oversee it."

It's unclear whether Ashcroft gave his approval or not. The WH apparently throttled back somewhat on the extra-legal aspects of the operation for several months.

Kevin's conclusion from the Times article?

What did the audit conclude? It's hard to say; the Times doesn't report on whether abuses were discovered during the review or not.

As for the story behind the story, it appears that there's something of a revolt underway at the Department of Justice. There's no way the NYT could get this story, with these details, unless several in-the-know Justice officials decided it was time to start talking.

Indeed, it may be part of a trend. DoJ officials recently leaked word, for example, that attorneys in the in the Civil Rights Division concluded that Georgia's poll-tax law was discriminatory against minority voters and should be blocked from implementation, but they were quickly overruled by Bush-appointed higher-ups. Moreover, the lead attorney in the government's landmark lawsuit against the tobacco industry recently told reporters that her politically appointed bosses undermined her team's work on the case. And earlier this month, the Washington Post reported on leaked memos showing that DoJ officials concluded, unanimously, that Tom DeLay's re-redistricting scheme in Texas violated the Voting Rights Act -- but once again they were overruled by Bush's political appointees.

When the Justice Department starts leaking like a sieve, and all the news embarrasses the White House, you know Bush has a problem.


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