Monday, December 26, 2005

GOP To New Orleans: Drop Dead

In today's Washington Post, in a story on the future of New Orleans, the GOP's decision to let the city die was on display, though you had to look for it.

It came in the form of the following:

"'I think the country has moved beyond Katrina at this point,' said Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.), former House GOP campaign head and now chairman of the House investigation of the response."

And that is really all you need to know.

The article indicated that while polls show a clear majority of Democrats and Independents think it more important to rebuild New Orleans before rebuilding Iraq, self-identified Republicans want Iraq to come first by a 46 to 37 percent majority.

These are the people that allegedly have the nation's moral values? You have to be joking.

Elsewhere in the article comes this:

"Republicans look at New Orleans and see Galveston, Tex., which in 1900 was the state's largest city and the Gulf's largest port before 8,000 residents were killed by a hurricane, Brinkley said . That city was supplanted by Houston, and Brinkley believes Republicans consider it less costly to remake New Orleans as a smaller city based on tourism and its port. It could be surpassed by Baton Rouge, which is nearer Houston's petrochemical industry, set on the Mississippi River and easier to protect from future storms, Brinkley said.

"Democrats see such a move as no less than a GOP takeover, one that would effectively gut Democrat-dominated New Orleans and undermine the party's hold on a governorship and Senate seat south of the Mason-Dixon line."

That is exactly what is at play here. now let's see if the Democrats are going to have the balls to make this an issue in '06.

I am not denying that the Governor and Mayor of New Orleans don't have roles to play. But when one hears how the poor are not being given money to rebuild their homes, while the affluent are, as the New York Times recently reported, what is happening is pretty clear. The Federal Government is essentially telling the city of New Orleans to drop dead.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Bush Comment That Will End His Presidency

It is so unbelievably fitting that George Bush will be done in by his own words.

If one heads over to the official White House website, one will be treated to the following Bush remarks:

"So the first thing I want you to think about is, when you hear Patriot Act, is that we changed the law and the bureaucratic mind-set to allow for the sharing of information. It's vital. And others will describe what that means.

"Secondly, there are such things as roving wiretaps. Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution."

George Bush made those comments in April of 2004, more than 2 years after he had authorized wiretapping without a court order.

This now becomes more than a debate over the limits of presidential power. These remarks from Bush are now proven to be lies.

If a lie over a blowjob can result in an attempt at impeachment, than this should be a slam dunk.

Let's see how GOP hypocrites handle this one. I suspect that, no matter the outcome, his presidency will be hindered by this for the remainder of whatever term he serves.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Why Dan Froomkin Should Be Required Reading

Dan Froomkin writes a column at called "White House Briefing."

Recently, an article published by the Post ombudsman, Deborah Howell stated, "Political reporters at The Post don't like WPNI columnist Dan Froomkin's "White House Briefing," which is highly opinionated and liberal. They're afraid that some readers think that Froomkin is a Post White House reporter."

In her piece, Howell made clear that WashPo national politics editor John Harris had a major issue with Froomkin. Harris apparently did not want anybody to think that Froomkin was one of the White House reporters and wanted the name of his media-watching column changed from "White House Briefing." According to Harris, a website blogger such as Chris Cillizza, is someone Harris is "happy to have."

Well, if one checks out the daily blog by Cillizza, I think there is pretty clearly a right-wing bias and, when one reads the comments to his political bloggings that complaint has often been uttered.

In Dan Froomkin's column yesterday, he astutely pointed out that no president had ever chosen not to attend the White House Conference on Aging. Froomkin also pointed out the most important piece of information, which was that no major media outlets were covering it either, or referring to Bush not showing up. Instead, Froomkin singled out NPR and regional papers which did cover the story.

What I am wondering is how the hell can outlets such as the Washington Post justify not referring to Bush skipping this conference, in fact not even report on the conference, but devote all their space on the subject to a staged Bush press conference?

How can one not conclude that all this paper, and other news outlets, are looking for is access to the administration? Access which they can only get by promoting the Bush agenda.

The lack of coverage in this particular case is demonstrable proof of the lack of responsibility and accountability by the White House press corps.

And THAT is why we need media-watchers like Dan Froomkin.

Who else are we gonna call on to tell us the truth?

Bob Woodward? John Harris? Chris Cillizza?

Yeah, right.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Pity Of New Orleans

An essential editorial today from The New York Times concerns the willful destruction of the city of New Orleans by the Bush administration.

In their lead editorial, the Times begins:

"We are about to lose New Orleans. Whether it is a conscious plan to let the city rot until no one is willing to move back or honest paralysis over difficult questions, the moment is upon us when a major American city will die, leaving nothing but a few shells for tourists to visit like a museum."

Further on:

"There are many unanswered questions that will take years to work out, but one is make-or-break and needs to be dealt with immediately. It all boils down to the levee system. People will clear garbage, live in tents, work their fingers to the bone to reclaim homes and lives, but not if they don't believe they will be protected by more than patches to the same old system that failed during the deadly storm. Homeowners, businesses and insurance companies all need a commitment before they will stake their futures on the city.

"At this moment the reconstruction is a rudderless ship. There is no effective leadership that we can identify. How many people could even name the president's liaison for the reconstruction effort, Donald Powell? Lawmakers need to understand that for New Orleans the words "pending in Congress" are a death warrant requiring no signature.

"The rumbling from Washington that the proposed cost of better levees is too much has grown louder. Pretending we are going to do the necessary work eventually, while stalling until the next hurricane season is upon us, is dishonest and cowardly. Unless some clear, quick commitments are made, the displaced will have no choice but to sink roots in the alien communities where they landed."

And the Times writes this, keeping in context the President's promises to rebuild the city and noticing the complete lack of follow-up efforts.

To be fair, state and city officials are being skewered for not coming up with an acceptable plan for rebuilding, but this is a momumental effort. It is hard to imagine any city, including New York, being able to rebuild their entire infrastructure (not just a neighborhood) without massive outside help. This is not Sim City 2005.

The importance of the editorial is that the state of American media is so pitiful that once bodies stop being found, the press loses interest. It is probably why George Bush made the promises he made. He knows better than anybody how short a memory can be found in the institutions that are supposed to be informing us.

If anything, the Democrats need to highlight the Bush response to the rebuilding of New Orleans. If the GOP-led Congress and White House continue to stall, America needs to know. And we need to be reminded of how many billions are being spent to "allegedly" rebuild Iraq.

Our priorities at this time are so skewed it feels like we have already gone through the looking glass.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Murtha News Conference: Where Is The Coverage?

What if somebody held a News Conference detailing specific reasons why we need to pull out of Iraq and nobody came?

Well, today it seemes that some people were covering U.S. Representative John Murtha's response to the latest blather from George Bush. CNN and MSNBC went live, but Fox seemed a bit too busy covering some Geraldo Rivera fluff to notice.

And yet, here it is late afternoon of the same day and you can't find the story anywhere in the mainstream media, except maybe the Washington Post. Oh, you might find a brief sentence in the multitude of stories on the latest Bush stump speech, but nothing else. Don't believe me, try a Google news search of Murtha and "news conference" and see the silence for yourself. One only hopes coverage eventually happens. Where is the AP wire story on this? Were they too busy watching Fox to attend?

My question, how the hell can we expect a dialogue on this war that doesn't resort to dumbed-down RNC talking points when the media will not allow those who practice reasoned dissent any voice or outlet?

The movie "Network" is becoming reality in 2005. it's time we all started saying that 'we are mad as Hell and are not gonna take it anymore.'

Monday, December 05, 2005

Limbaugh Louisiana Lies

It's not a big news flash that Rush Limbaugh's rhetoric isn't exactly grounded in truth. However, it is nice when he gets called on it.

After suggesting on his show that recovery in New Orleans is proceeding well and impugning the character of state and city officials while defending George Bush, the General Manager of the New Orleans radio station that carries his program has invited him down to broadcast from the devastated city.

The incident was triggered by a caller, referred to as "Ray from New Orleans," who was obviously put on the show to mark Limbaugh's return to the New Orleans affiliate after 3 months of local, emergency programming.

According to the article:

"Ray set the tone by criticizing President Bush's fabulously framed Jackson Square TV speech to the nation.

"'All lies,' the caller said. 'None of the things that he promised are happening.'

"Countering Ray's contention that New Orleans isn't progressing toward normalcy, Limbaugh then mentioned that he has friends here.

"'And I'm not hearing this from them,' he said. 'I know it's bad but . . . I'm under the impression that the main problem that the local officials have is that they don't have enough Democrats coming back who fled or who were evacuated and they're worried about the next elections.'

"Limbaugh added that he'd heard about lots of good-paying recovery jobs going unfilled.

"'There's no place for people to live,' Ray said.

"'The whole city?' Limbaugh countered. 'There's nowhere to live? The French Quarter?'

"You know, the town sector filled with reasonably priced efficiency accommodations. The kind that a laborer's wage, here in the post-Katrina worker's paradise, could easily afford.

"'They're going to do Mardi Gras for crying out loud,' Limbaugh said.

"Eventually, Limbaugh blamed the failure of the federally designed levees on New Orleanians.

"You know, the ones who waded out of their neighborhoods in neck-deep swill."

The article later reports that "Diane Newman, the WWL operations manager and program director who bumped local talk hosts to return Limbaugh to the New Orleans airwaves, listened to the Wednesday segment twice and concluded that 'there was a disconnect,' she said. 'He did sound uninformed. But he's not here.'

"And so Newman vows to formally invite Limbaugh for a visit.

"'I will do my damnedest to get Rush Limbaugh to broadcast from here, to drive through Lakeview, through Gentilly, drive through Mid-City, drive through New Orleans East, drive through St. Bernard, drive through the 9th Ward,' she said."

But the point is that, in his effort to be the George Bush pit bull on all issues, Limbaugh reveals his utter lack of humanity and compassion. And, once again, Limbaugh demonstrates that the facts do not matter in Rushbo's politics of slam and slander.

And someone is finally taking him to task for it.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Missing Iraqi Billions

As Republicans respond to their over-zealous pork barrel spending by seeking to cut spending on social programs that impact the least fortunate of us, one question remains missing from the radar screen; how many billions are being wasted in the war effort and what ever happened to the billions appropriated for Iraqi reconstruction?

This is not a new question. In a column published on AlterNet in the Summer of 2004,Pratap Chatterjee wrote:

"A team of auditors was dispatched to Iraq in late January this year after a string of internal reports showed that the military was wasting billions of dollars of taxpayer money. They have issued eleven reports since June 25, almost all of which have pointed to the misuse of the money allocated for reconstruction, be it Iraqi or Congress-appropriated funds.

"According to two of these reports issued in late July by Stuart Bowen, the auditor-inspector general of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), not only have a full one-third of the items purchased by the Pentagon gone MIA (including the pricey generator), but a whopping. $1.9 billion or more of Iraqi oil revenue has also mysteriously disappeared.

"Embarrassed military authorities did eventually track down the missing generator and much of the money, both of which seemed to have ended up with none other than Halliburton. As it turns out they weren't missing after all; it's just that Dick Cheney's former employer had misplaced or conveniently forgotten to turn in the receipts to the correct people."

Sadly, this is one story that never seems to get into the news, or gets addressed by the talking spinners, when the budget gets discussed.

The problem is ongoing today, only with a bigger piece of change now unaccounted for.

As was recently written by Joel E. Bousely, in the American Chronicle, much of the abuse has to do with a deliberate lack of oversight from the GOP-led Congress:

"Under the leadership of the current incarnation of Republicans, corporations and defense contractors, like Halliburton, have been granted unbridled privilege. Some 8.8 billion dollars of tax-payer money has gone missing in Iraq. The defense contracting company Halliburton was one of the main benefactors of this money having received an estimated one billion dollars. Rather than taking up this issue, Republicans in Congress have largely ignored it over the protests of three key Democratic senators – Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, Ron Wyden of Oregon, and Tom Harkin of Iowa. The military-industrial complex clearly has far too much influence in politics in Washington."

Hmmm....maybe the Democrats should hold a press conference and ask why there is non-existent oversight on some of these companies that received no-bid contracts? And why companies such as Halliburton, have not been held accountable for the billions that have been appropriated?

While the MSM generally keeps mum on Halliburton, they are all too happy to let the world know that Halliburton catered this year's Thanksgiving feast in Iraq. Factoid-driven tabloids were only too happy to report that the troops feasted on:

"* 300,000 pounds of turkey

"* 150,000 pounds of boneless ham

"* 50,000 pounds of stuffing

"* 10,000 pounds of mashed potatoes

"* 15,000 pounds of cranberry sauce

"* 10,000 gallons of eggnog

"* 30,000 pies

"Other menu items will vary from site to site and may include a medley of fresh fruits, salads, vegetable dishes and homemade baked goods."

I guess if we decide to investigate how much Halliburton budgeted for this feast, we might uncover 1 billion dollars right there alone.

I can see it now, Halliburton's spokesperson explaining how the company first had to create their own poultry farm to alleviate the logistics of bringing the turkeys into Iraq.

Is anyone ever going to cry fowl?

Monday, November 21, 2005

Kurtz Goes 0 For 2

Though I often do not share his points-of-view, I usually enjoy the daily Howard Kurtz column at the Washington Post online. Not today.

What Kurtz wrote today was precisely the type of wrongheaded posturing that I find so maddening in some of these columnists at our allegedly liberal bastions of journalism.

Today's column was apparently written in response to a new book, just out by Mary Mapes. Mapes was the fired CBS Producer who was responsible for the brouhaha over the supposedly forged documents concerning the military record of George W. Bush.

In writing about Mapes, Kurtz notes:

"In challenging those who have questioned her work -- including The Washington Post and this reporter, who is cited in the book for a triple-bylined news story recounting the mess -- Mapes displays the relentless qualities that all good diggers share. But she also opens herself up to the charge that her obsession has clouded her judgment.

"Mapes is right that the purported 30-year-old memos by Bush's long-dead squadron commander have not been proven to be forgeries, but is that the standard for broadcasting a serious charge? The documents have not been proven real, either, and endless debates about superscript and proportional spacing are not likely to change that."

What has always troubled me about the Mapes saga, the true tragedy, is that it caused everyone to stop investigating the real issue....nobody can be found to support Bush's contention that he did indeed fulfill his requirements to the National Guard.

Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I am of the school that a Rovian dirty trick resulted in the planting of this document. How else to explain the almost immediate pouncing upon this by a cadre of right-wing bloggers? It was instantaneous, as if they knew what to look for.

And, lo and behold, as soon as this fiasco broke, the Bush record was brought off the table. What a brilliant way to call a halt to the charges that Bush evaded service. Those who had the right to challenge the service record were suddenly put on the defensive, despite the fact that there is still nobody who can say they served alongside Bush during the dates in question. It totally fits the Rovian gameplan.

Apparently, it was fine to dispute the service of a hero candidate, John Kerry, but off limits to find out if the President actually showed up for duty.

The fact that reporters no longer thought it acceptable to challenge the many holes in the Bush service record justifies Mapes' fears. Because of this, Mr. Kurtz just becomes another administration mouthpiece by assuming Mapes is only raising her voice out of greed, for her book's sake. Those questions that CBS raised have still not been answered. These questions were being raised long before the Rather piece aired. But nobody was able to broach the subject again after the GOP attack. Why does that not seem to bother anyone? It would be one thing if the question of Dubya's service had been first brought up by Rather, but it wasn't. It had been news fodder way before that telecast.

Later in the column, Kurtz even tops himself.

Judith Miller, the reporter who went to jail and eventually lost her job to defend a smear campaign, is referred to this way:

"Miller deserves credit for her willingness to go to jail rather than testify about her conversations with I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. Yet she continues to defend her decision to leave jail 85 days later and testify, despite criticism that this undercut her original stance."


Miller "deserves credit" for helping to facilitate a smear campaign? Since when is being a willing participant in the cover-up of political dirty tricks akin to protecting the source of say, a whistleblower? To me, not being able to differentiate between the 2 is the real travesty.

Exactly what journalistic ethics was Miller honoring when she became so cozy with the administration that she transformed herself into an extension of their agenda?

Incidentally, the title of today's Kurtz column was "Journalists Who Won't Give Up."

How interesting that Kurtz doesn't see how that applies to him as well.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Dems Let Murtha Twist In The Wind

If anything demonstrates the dilemma that rank-and-file Democrats have with the wax figures that pass for party leaders, one need only look to the treatment of Rep. John Murtha.

Rep. Murtha, who has generally been described as "a hawkish Democrat" and a highly-decorated military hero held a press conference yesterday.

At that event, Rep. Murtha spoke out very passionately about the fact that America needs to pull our forces out of Iraq. In calling for the pull-out, Murtha said the following:

"The United States and coalition troops have done all they can in Iraq. But it's time for a change in direction. Our military is suffering. The future of our country is at risk. We cannot continue on the present course. It is evident that continued military action in Iraq is not in the best interest of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf Region."

So, how did the Democrats respond? By running for cover. Talk about the folks who really cut-and-run.

The Washington Post's Dana Milbank, in a column entitled "An Unlikely Lonesome Dove," described the cowardly reaction:

"It was a lonely day for once-mighty Murtha, who has long served as Democrats' conscience on military matters because of his moral authority on the subject. But Democrats were cutting and running yesterday -- not from Iraq, but from Murtha.

"'I don't support immediate withdrawal,' came the statement from Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

"Aides to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) hinted that she would back Murtha, but when she finally spoke, it came out as 'Mr. Murtha speaks for himself.'"

There were other, even harsher reactions. All of them from a party that evidently plans to spring an actual plan on Iraq just in time for the 2006 mid-term elections. How transparent.

The GOP has noticed the unfortunate reaction by Democrats and are now calling for a vote in the House because they know the Dems are too chicken to go on record opposing the occupation.

The truly pathetic component of all this are that polls show that the majority of Americans want us out of Iraq. And yet, because they have a unified message, Republicans will be able to win the PR war that a vote to pull out of Iraq is a cowardly "cut-and-run." Has anybody heard anything resembling a unified Democratic response to the fallacious cut-and-run charge? Has anybody been vociferously delivering the PROPER message that to question the patriotism of those that dissent is truly the unpatriotic position? Of course not, they smugly believe things will take care of themselves.

You don't get much more spineless than the Democrats have behaved over Murtha. We need to address our politicians and let them know we are taking note.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Are The 'Times' A-Changin'?

Just as I had written the old grey lady off she surprises me.

In the aftermath of the Judy Miller fiasco at the New York Times, I had pretty much divorced myself from the paper. The holier-than-thou editorials on Miller while she remained incarcerated were too sanctimonious to bear. The only articles I checked out were the op-ed pieces from Frank Rich and Maureen Dowd, which were no longer available for free online. Fortunately, the Truth Out blog is permitted to reprint the pieces, so that was as far as my dosage of the Times went.

Today, however, the Times takes a major step forward. Not only do they shatter the RNC talking points that perpetuate George W. Bush's continued lies on pre-war intelligence and the way it was handled, but they offer a cliff notes version of why they are lies, and what the truth is. It is a very useful editorial to refer to when contacting papers to rebut the fallacious charges the GOP is putting forth.

The name of the game for Democrats needs to be constantly preparing co-ordinated, fact-based responses that not only are reactive and effectively answer past attacks, but are also pro-active as well. With every volley we need to make the GOP respond to counter-charges of our own.

In recent years, Democrats have been pitiful when under attack. Maybe we are starting to get our groove back. Better late than never.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Frist 'Doesn't Care' About Secret Prisons

The behavior of the GOP leadership continues to look increasingly out of touch with mainstream America. How else to explain the latest rant of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.

Today, the AP reported that Frist is more concerned about the leak of the secret prisons than the existence of these illegal prisons themselves.

Consider that the CNN Headline to the story was "Frist Concerned More About Leaks Than Secret Prisons."

Quite frankly, that will resonate about as badly as the news that Dick Cheney has become a lobbyist for torture.

It would be one thing if he both wanted to get to the bottom of the leak, and also wanted to find out why we in America have secret prisons that apparently operate outside the boundaries of oversight and law. But he doesn't want to know about these prisons, where it is presumed that anything goes.

In response to just such a question, Frist said that he is "not concerned about what goes on."

Does he think that Americans also don't care?

The only answer for this bizarre rush to investigate is that this is the GOP strategy to take heat off the administration over the Plame outing. One would have to assume that they feel it was a Democrat who leaked the information to the Washington Post and this gives them something to sink their teeth into.

The problem though is that this will keep the issue of those secret prisons in the news and I suspect that most Americans will no doubt feel that secret prisons are something that this country should not tolerate. I could be wrong, but I would think that there would be more outrage that the prisons exist, than that they were exposed. This is a no-win for the GOP. To equate this type of leak, with the outing of an agent, is laughable.

My God, who is advising these fools?

Friday, November 04, 2005

Why Is The Press Protecting Cheney?

There are few columns I see as indispensible, but at the top of my list is Dan Froomkin's weekday "White House Briefing," that appears in the Washington Post.

Froomkin was one of the very few to initiate a discussion on Col. Lawrence Wilkerson's comments on a Dick Cheney 'cabal' last month.

I previously devoted an entire entry to the lackadaisical media response to this revelation by Colin Powell's former chief-of-staff.

Today, Froomkin remains optimistic and suggests that the media, which he says eventually caught on to Col. Wilkerson's initial remarks, will eventually latch on to the most recent revelation.

I disagree, but more on that in a second.

Froomkin wrote the following about the newest comments from Wilkerson:

"On NPR yesterday, the former chief of staff to the secretary of state said that he had uncovered a 'visible audit trail' tracing the practice of prisoner abuse by U.S. soldiers directly back to Vice President Cheney's office."

Upon linking to the Froomkin column, there is supportive audio evidence of the comments, though no official transcript is yet available.

At the time the column was posted, on early Friday afternoon, Froomkin wrote that the only news service to cover the story thus far, was Agence France Presse. By the way, you've got to love the accompanying Cheney photo that Yahoo! has on their site, to go with the AFP story.

Unlike Froomkin, I don't think the media responded well at all to Col. Wilkerson's major revelations. What Wilkerson was alleging had earth-shaking implications; that Dick Cheney and a group of power-mongers hijacked this administration and essentially were doing un-precedented misdeeds that went, and still have gone, unchecked.

If a stain on Monica Lewinsky's dress can be front page material, why not this??

At the time of this post, I checked Google News for all stories matching 'Wilkerson' and 'Cheney,' and I have 417 hits. At the same time, a search of Madonna wielded over 4,000 hits.

The latest story may catch on, but the point was, this should be headline 'in-your-face' news. And it is not.

Since Froomkin posted, the most recent Wilkerson story has spread a the CBC and Editor & Publisher, but it has not spread nearly fast enough. Why is this not on every front page?

As for Cheney, I think that the Washington Post was on to something, when, in an October 26th editorial, they labelled him as the "Vice-President for Torture."

Monday, October 31, 2005

How Dems Win, Battling Alito Nomination

Polls are often very revealing....if one knows where to look and what to look for.

The latest USA Today/CNN Gallup Poll shows what the Democratic strategy on Alito and the entire Supreme Court nomination process needs to be. It is crystal clear.

According to the poll, when asked whether someone who is a "conservative" is essential as a qualification for Supreme Court justice, the breakdown was:
21% Essential
24% Good idea, not essential
32% Doesn't matter
20% Bad idea
3% No opinion.

By a 45-20 count, Americans have bought into the notion that a "Conservative" is good for the Court. The rhetoric works.

Except when that rhetoric is translated into something tangible.


When the question becomes how essential it is for the next justice to be someone who would overturn Roe V. Wade on abortion there is a radical shift:

16% Essential
16% Not essential, but good idea
20% Doesn't matter
42% Bad idea
6% No opinion

We now go to a 42-32 plus for the Democratic position, a huge swing from the 45-20 that is allegedly pro-conservative.

What this poll clearly demonstrates is that the public does not fully understand that the type of conservative that Bush is appointing to the court is a man who will overturn Roe V. Wade. Everything the Democrats do in this process needs to be focused on alerting the public that 'Conservative,' in a judicial sense, means the taking away of a woman's choice. We need to make sure that the word 'Conservative' has the proper connotations attached to it, and not just the false stature that GOP pundits imbue it with.

The GOP is winning the war on image, but when reality is presented, that victory turns into defeat.

Revealing Alito Ruling Should Rile Latinos

Since the man does have a paper trail I did a little exploring on some of Judge Samuel Alito's prior rulings.

An enlightening tidbit...

I wonder how the Latino community will view the following Alito decision, which allowed potential jurors to be excluded from a jury, for speaking a foreign language.

From Trial Magazine (7/1/94) comes this interesting ruling:

"Excluding potential jurors because they speak a foreign language does not violate the Equal Protection Clause, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled.

"A three-judge panel reversed a district court ruling and upheld two New Jersey drug convictions. It rejected arguments by the defendants that the prosecutor's use of peremptory strikes to remove all Spanish-speaking jurors amounted to discrimination against Hispanics. (Pemberthy v. Beyer, 19 F.3d 857 (3d Cir. Mar. 16, 1994).)

"'[N]o simple equation can be drawn between ethnicity and language,' Judge Samuel Alito wrote. 'Sociologists recognize language as only one of the many components of ethnicity.'

"Alan Zegas, an attorney in West Orange, New Jersey, who represents defendant Gabriel Pemberthy, said the effect of the decision will be 'to deny Latino defendants a jury of their peers.' By excluding Spanish speakers, he said, 'you are by definition excluding the entire Latino population from the jury.'"

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Why is Cheney 'Cabal' Story Being Buried?

If ever a story exemplified the dereliction of duty by the mainstream media, it is the way they have covered remarks this week by Col. Larry Wilkerson.

In comments made at the New America Foundation, a D.C. think tank, Wilkerson, Colin Powell's former Chief-of-Staff at the State Department, said the following:

"'What I saw was a cabal between the Vice President of the United States Richard Cheney, and the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld,' Col. Lawrence Wilkerson told a stunned audience at the New America Foundation, a Washington think tank.

"'We have courted disaster, in Iraq, in North Korea, in Iran, generally with regard to domestic crises like Katrina, Rita and I could go on back, we haven't done very well on anything like that in a long time,' he said. 'And if something comes along that is truly serious, truly serious, something like a nuclear weapon going off in a major American city, or something like a major pandemic, you are going to see the ineptitude of this government in a way that will take you back to the Declaration of Independence.'

"'The Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal flummoxed the process' over going to war in Iraq and the shambles that was made of the nation's reconstruction, Wilkerson said. Cheney and Rumsfeld now preside over 'a concentration of power that is just unparalleled' in U.S. history,' he said."

Have you read this story? The odds are heavily stacked against it.

I have read 2 columnists rightly questioning why this story has not gotten higher priority. In the Huffington Post, Cenk Uyger wrote, "when a top former Bush administration official comes out and says the White House has been taken over by a cabal and that George Bush is overmatched for his position, I would say that qualifies as headline news."

One of the best columnists writing on the web today, Dan Froomkin of the Washington Post has addressed this 2 days in a row.

Froomkin, the day the story was first reported, on October 20th, wrote, "It didn't make the front page this morning, but it seems to me that it's a big deal when a former top administration official declares that a secret cabal led by the vice president has hijacked U.S. foreign policy, inveigled the president, condoned torture and crippled the ability of the government to respond to emergencies."

The following day, Froomkin referred back to the story and writes, "There's virtually no follow-up whatsoever in today's papers."

Which leads me to wonder, why are the American people being shut out from learning about these comments? We are not talking about the extremist fringe here. These comments were made by Colin Powell's right-hand man.

So who is the MSM protecting?

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Say 'No' To Pro-Life, 'Yes' To Pro-Ban

The only thing one needs to know to understand how the left and center have allowed the right-wing to control the national discourse are the word 'liberal' and the term 'pro-life.'

It has only been recently that 'liberal' has begun to be re-claimed for the proud heritage behind the name, so now let's adopt a strategy to fight the fraudulent term 'pro-life.'

When it comes to defining ones position in the abortion debate, the term 'pro-choice' is perfectly acceptable, because even the opposition would agree that they are against the right of a woman to choose. Using the term 'pro-choice' does not denigrate their position.

However, use of the term 'pro-life' makes the assumption that those who take the opposing view are 'anti-life,' which is a fallacious argument. That might be the case if those who support abortion rights buy into the assertion that life begins at conception, which many don't. And even if those who do believe that life begins at conception support the right for others to decide for themselves, the appropriateness of having an abortion, it hardly makes them 'anti-life.'

While others have used the term 'anti-choice' to label those who would ban abortion, I can understand why the mainstream media does not adopt it. It takes sides. It labels one side negatively. Seriously, whether it is honest or not, who would want their position to be labeled with an 'anti' anything?

And that brings me to 'pro-ban.'

'Pro-ban' is the flipside to 'pro-choice.' One side represents the right of a woman to choose an abortion, the other side supports a ban on abortions. And it uses lingo that doesn't demonize the opposition.

A term like 'pro-ban' accurately represents their position in favor of banning abortion, while giving respect to the opposition as being 'anti-ban.'

Incidentally, a search on Google found the following results for these entries:
pro-choice 3,610,000
pro-life 5,290,000

We are losing the battle of words and with it the battle of perceptions.

So how about it? Can we start a campaign to contact mainstream media outlets when they use the term 'pro-life' and ask them to use this more accurate term that does not denigrate those who support a woman's right to choose?

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Will Someone Ask Bush This Question?

Since Dubya repeatedly says that Miers will strictly interpret the Constitution and not legislate from the bench, will some journalist please ask Bush the following....."Mr. President, do you feel that the verdict in Roe v. Wade was an example of legislating from the bench?"

This way, the public can finally cut to the chase on this.

As far as the overall "legislate from the bench" jargon goes, Edward Lazarus has a good piece up on the Find Law blog.

In getting to the bottom of the lingo, Lazarus writes:

"The nature of Miers's nomination may well have made such revelations inevitable. On the one hand, in order to stay true to longstanding Administration strategy, President Bush has to promote Miers as a strict constructionist who will not "legislate from the bench."

"But on the other hand, because Miers is such an unknown even in GOP circles, right-wing skeptics of her nomination are demanding actual evidence that Miers will carry their agenda - and make no mistake, this is a highly political agenda, not a neutral "carry out the law as written and respect precedent" agenda -- onto the Court.

"Most importantly, they are looking for assurances not about neutral decisionmaking or interpretive method, but rather about results: They want to know, with certainty, that Miers will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. From their perspective, simply declaring Miers to be a strict constructionist is not enough.

"As a result, the Administration finds itself torn between directly conflicting imperatives. It has to say that Miers won't base her legal thinking on her values, in order to position her as a strict constructionist. Yet at the same time, the only way the Administration can credibly reassure its conservative base that it can trust Miers to "do the right thing," is to hint strongly that Miers's evangelical Christian values will make her a conservative standard bearer on the Court."

The Demonizing Of Bushco's Enemies

At the Crooks and Liars blog there is a perfect representation of the way that Bushco wages war on perceived enemies. It concerns Press Secretary Scott McClellan and his attack on veteran journalist Helen Thomas, during his October 13th press briefing.

Angered by questions from Ms. Thomas that challenged McClellan on intertwining 9/11 and Iraq, McClellan commented that Thomas was "opposed to the broader war on terrorism."

Witness the following exchange:

(Note: The initial questioning is by Thomas)

"Q What does the President mean by "total victory" -- that we will never leave Iraq until we have "total victory"? What does that mean?

"MR. McCLELLAN: Free and democratic Iraq in the heart of the Middle East, because a free and democratic Iraq in the heart of the Middle East will be a major blow to the ambitions --

"Q If they ask us to leave, then we'll leave?

"MR. McCLELLAN: I'm trying to respond. A free and democratic Iraq in the heart of the broader Middle East will be a major blow to the ambitions of al Qaeda and their terrorist associates. They want to establish or impose their rule over the broader Middle East -- we saw that in the Zawahiri letter that was released earlier this week by the intelligence community.

"Q They also know we invaded Iraq.

"MR. McCLELLAN: Well, Helen, the President recognizes that we are engaged in a global war on terrorism. And when you're engaged in a war, it's not always pleasant, and it's certainly a last resort. But when you engage in a war, you take the fight to the enemy, you go on the offense. And that's exactly what we are doing. We are fighting them there so that we don't have to fight them here. September 11th taught us --

"Q It has nothing to do with -- Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11.

"MR. McCLELLAN: Well, you have a very different view of the war on terrorism, and I'm sure you're opposed to the broader war on terrorism. The President recognizes this requires a comprehensive strategy, and that this is a broad war, that it is not a law enforcement matter.


"Q On what basis do you say Helen is opposed to the broader war on terrorism?

"MR. McCLELLAN: Well, she certainly expressed her concerns about Afghanistan and Iraq and going into those two countries. I think I can go back and pull up her comments over the course of the past couple of years.

"Q And speak for her, which is odd.

"MR. McCLELLAN: No, I said she may be, because certainly if you look at her comments over the course of the past couple of years, she's expressed her concerns --

"Q I'm opposed to preemptive war, unprovoked preemptive war.

"MR. McCLELLAN: -- she's expressed her concerns. "

It is so quintissentially Bushco. Attack the loyalty and patriotism of any who would dare to question your policies.

In this case, kudos to Terry Moran for calling McClellan on it and putting him on the defensive for using the tactic.

Wouldn't it be nice if the MSM chose to highlight moments such as these in their coverage of these exercises in futility, led uncomfortably by an obviously demoralized McClellan?

Friday, October 07, 2005

Did Dubya Really Not Know?

I find it a bit odd that George W. is getting what seems to be a free pass in the media on Plamegate.

Doesn't any reporter think it might be possible that Bush not only knew, but encouraged the outing of Valerie Plame?

Typical of coverage is today's porridge from the AP on Karl Rove's allegedly directly telling both Bush and Scott McLellan that he was not responsible for blowing Plame's cover.

But think about it, this is at a time when Bush and his posse felt that they could pretty much do anything they wanted. His approval rating was still relatively high and Bush had to have been aware of other dirty tricks perpetuated in his name. So why would something of this magnitutde not be discussed with Bush, or Cheney for that matter.

I, for one, would be surprised if Dubya wasn't in the loop. However, I cannot imagine one of the boys ratting him out either?

So let's see who gets sacrificed at the altar, to become a future pardon down the road.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

What do George Bush, James Dobson and Pat Robertson have in common?

Apparently, God selects the simplest among us to deliver the Divine message.

According to AFP, the answer to "who would Jesus bomb?" has been revealed.


Washington Post blogger Chris Cillizza didn't know what he was in for. On his "The Fix" blog on the Post website, Mr. Cillizza had an item, "Dean Pops Off," trashing Howard Dean's appearance on "Hardball."

Cillizza's 2 excerpts from that interview chose to stereotype and marginalize Dean. The first reference was to Dean's use of the term "hide the salami," in referring to White House tactics over the Miers nomination. Cillizza also seemed to be amazed that Dean would dare infer that Cheney had prior knowledge of the Plame outing, and also cited this Dean remark, "The M.O. of the Bush administration is to discredit your opponents and attack them personally rather than attack them for their position."

I was one of those who commented on the scape-goating of Dean. Many accused Cillizza of being a tool of the RNC. But, what amazed me, was the unanimity of the comments against Cillizza. I realize that the Post will more likely than not garner a liberal readership, but the comments were extremely critical, with hardly anybody coming to his defense. And the tone was especially harsh.

So harsh, in fact, that Cillizza followed it up with an assertion that the reaction against Dean was something he had heard from unnamed Democratic strategists.

That, of course, brought in yet another assault. As I pointed out in my comments, the Democratic strategists were one of the main reasons that the party sometimes appears to be 'GOP lite' and why we lose elections. We need politicians with a spine, who are willing to speak out.

At any rate, Cillizza's choice to hide behind unnamed sources, in the current, post-Judy Miller, Plamegate climate, was rather unfortunate. And, judging by the comments, it seemed to backfire on him.

Maybe we really are mad as hell and aren't gonna take it anymore.

One would only hope.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Harriet Meirs' Past

It didn't take long, researching into Harriet Meirs' background to uncover some interesting tidbits:

1)In Money Magazine (8/1/87), Harriet Meirs' name comes up in her role as a lawyer, representing a Dallas mortgage firm, charged with fraud. The report yielded the following:

"Regulators in a handful of states have filed lawsuits and lobbied for legislation designed to keep lenders from slipping Houdini-like out of lock-in agreements. Last summer Pennsylvania imposed emergency lock-in guidelines for mortgage brokers. Pennsylvania attorney general LeRoy S. Zimmerman also sued two brokers for alleged misrepresentations; the suit is still pending, but about 75 borrowers have come to acceptable settlements. This spring Zimmerman sued the nation's second largest mortgage banker, Dallas-based Lomas & Nettleton, charging that the company led borrowers to believe that quoted rates on Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans were locked solid when they actually moved in tandem with the Veterans Administration (VA) loan rate. According to Harriet Miers, a Dallas lawyer representing Lomas & Nettleton, the company is cooperating with the Pennsylvania attorney general but denies wrongdoing and contends that the link between the FHA and VA rates was clearly stated in a clause on the back of its loan agreements. Miers adds, however: 'We have suspended use of the clause nationwide until the confusion is cleared up.'"

2) In 1996, as head of the Texas Lottery commission, The Washington Times (12/23/96) reported that, "As U.S. grand juries in Austin and Greenwich, R.I., sifted through contracts involving this and other Gtech projects, Miss Linares last week filed suit in Austin against her bosses - the state Lottery Commission - charging that the group had illegally silenced her and had improperly taken control of the day-to-day operation of the lottery.

"Harriet Miers, a Dallas lawyer who chairs the Lottery Commission, had angered Miss Linares and other lottery officials last week by getting permission from Gov. George W. Bush to send in a contingent of Texas Rangers to guard against what Mrs. Miers claimed were improprieties involving the agency's investigative files.

"More than 180 such files were "missing," Mrs. Miers claimed."

3) La Prensa de San Antonio (2/16/97) had the following to write, regarding an apparent conflict-of-interest, concerning Miers:

"As stated in a previous column, the State Lottery Commission announced that lottery profits over the next year are estimated at $2.7 billion. Lt. Gov. Bullock favors turning lottery profits over to public education. Most people agree that's how the lottery profits should be spent. However, the commission and some of its contractors believe in spending money on lobbyists' contributions to public officials and other questionable pursuits.

"Recently the press discovered and reported that GTECH, the lottery's main contractor, was contributing up to Ten Thousand to favored legislators.

"GTECH has a lobbyist contract with former Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes. GTECH pays Barnes 4 percent of the money it earns from the lottery. That's a lot of money for lobbyists.

"GSD&M does most of the lottery's advertising and received $40.2 million from its lottery work last year. In the past two years, it has paid Texas Lottery Chairman Harriet Miers' law firm $38,500. This is not only obscene; it's illegal.

"All of these shenanigans are only the tip of the lottery iceberg. Why doesn't Gov. George Bush demand a complete investigation and audit of the State Lottery Commission before its too late? Instead of Lottery profits going to lobbyist, questionable legal fees etc., it should be used for the education of our children."

And these 3 tidbits are just for starters. Hey, maybe in a Bush/DeLay/Frist/Rove dynasty, Ms. Miers may be the perfect choice after all.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Can William Bennett Be That Dense

Yesterday, thanks to a tip from The Ed Schultz Show. Media Matters for America reported that William Bennett had made the following, blatantly racist comment: "But I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could -- if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down. That would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down."

So how does Mr. Bennett respond to the uproar? By claiming that his remarks were taken out of context and demanding that others apologize to him!

But the problem with Bennett's response is that his remarks were clearly not taken out of context. It was carefully presented to show the larger context of the conversation that inspired his words.

To listen to Bennett, you would think that the charges of racism were over the fact that folks were saying he was recommending genocide. The problem is not that anyone thinks he is advocating the wholesale slaughter of blacks to reduce the crime rate. The issue is that Bennett is saying that the propensity to commit crime is innate to being black.

If that wasn't the case, Bennett could have referred to the results of aborting the 'poor' baby, the 'unwanted' baby, or the 'disadvantaged' baby. But he said the "black" baby.

The comment was indeed racist and Bennett needs to take responsibility for it.

But, maybe it is easy to slime it up, when you have professional mudslingers like Rush Limbaugh to defend you. Limbaugh, on his show, outright lied and said that Media Matters for America did not produce the quote in its context.

The White House, in wording that, for some reason, was being hailed as disapproving in news reports, called Bennett's comments "not appropriate."

New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg had a great response for that. Senator Lautenberg said that "Not appropriate is wearing white shoes after Labor Day. These comments were reprehensible and racist."

But, compared to Limbaugh's lame defense, at least it is something that demonstrates that the GOP is not completely living in some alternate dimension.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Tom DeLay & The Politics of Sliming

The GOP sure is good at trying to deflect responsibility via the personal attack route, which is why the following story is not very surprising.

Earlier today, House Majority Leader Tom Delay was indicted on a conspiracy charge, which has to do with a violation of Texas law on the misuse of corporate donations.

So, how does the GOP slime machine respond? By accusing prosecutor Ronnie Earle of staging "partisan vendettas."

Media Matters for America has a good post on their website that sets the record straight. They write:

"While Earle is an elected Democrat, as Media Matters for America has previously noted, a June 17 editorial in the Houston Chronicle commended his work: "During his long tenure, Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle has prosecuted many more Democratic officials than Republicans. The record does not support allegations that Earle is prone to partisan witch hunts." This assertion supports Earle's own claim about his record; a March 6 article in the El Paso Times reported: "Earle says local prosecution is fundamental and points out that 11 of the 15 politicians he has prosecuted over the years were Democrats."

But when did the truth ever matter when the politics of slime is so much more effective?

Monday, September 19, 2005

Religious Groups Using New Orleans For Own Ends

When wolves smell a kill, the urge to devour is not often accompanied by restraint. In that spirit, check out the wolves from the religious right, who see Katrina as an opportunity.

According to an AP article, found on, church groups are pushing the CARE act, which the article states " would provide tax breaks and other incentives to Americans making charitable donations, and is part of a broader campaign to ease restrictions on federal grants for social service providers with a religious mission."

Additionally, it's reported that "Bishop T.D. Jakes, who gave the sermon Friday at the Washington National Cathedral service marking Bush's day of prayer for victims, has told the president that more money should be channeled directly to religious groups responding to the tragedy."

Hey, I suppose we can at least be thankful that Pat Robertson's Operation Blessing, part of the 'ministry' that has made him a multi-millionaire, is no longer the #2 place to donate to on the FEMA website. It had been directly under the listing for the American Red Cross.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

FEMA: The Ultimate Bureaucrats

Despite the fact that Michael Brown has resigned, it seems increasingly apparent that FEMA has no clue how to handle emergency operations. Everything seems awash in bureaucratic red tape.

Among the stories coming out today, it was reported on the nationally syndicated Ed Schultz show that states that were supposed to receive evacuees were told to no longer expect them.

Today, the AP reports that Governor Kathleen Blanco feels the government is "moving too slowly in recovering the bodies. The dead "deserve more respect than they have received," she said.

At issue is FEMA's not signing the contract with the company that was handling body removal.

Once again, insufferable bureaucracy rears its ugly head.

Monday, September 12, 2005

The Blackwater Mercenaries

It has not gotten much press, but the hired mercenaries that are now practicing frontier justice in New Orleans are a matter of concern.

In a story on the TruthOut blog, Jeremy Scahill and Daniella Crespo write the following:

"Blackwater mercenaries are some of the most feared professional killers in the world and they are accustomed to operating without worry of legal consequences. Their presence on the streets of New Orleans should be a cause for serious concern for the remaining residents of the city and raises alarming questions about why the government would allow men trained to kill with impunity in places like Iraq and Afghanistan to operate here. Some of the men now patrolling the streets of New Orleans returned from Iraq as recently as 2 weeks ago.

"What is most disturbing is the claim of several Blackwater mercenaries we spoke with that they are here under contract from the federal and Louisiana state governments.

"Blackwater is one of the leading private "security" firms servicing the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. It has several US government contracts and has provided security for many senior US diplomats, foreign dignitaries and corporations. The company rose to international prominence after 4 of its men were killed in Fallujah and two of their charred bodies were hung from a bridge in March 2004. Those killings sparked the massive US retaliation against the civilian population of Fallujah that resulted in scores of deaths and tens of thousands of refugees.

"As the threat of forced evictions now looms in New Orleans and the city confiscates even legally registered weapons from civilians, the private mercenaries of Blackwater patrol the streets openly wielding M-16s and other assault weapons. This despite Police Commissioner Eddie Compass' claim that "Only law enforcement are allowed to have weapons.""

This piece is definitely worth a read, for more startling revelations, such as "in an hour-long conversation with several Blackwater mercenaries, we heard a different story. The men we spoke with said they are indeed on contract with the Department of Homeland Security and the Louisiana governor's office and that some of them are sleeping in camps organized by Homeland Security in New Orleans and Baton Rouge. One of them wore a gold Louisiana state law enforcement badge and said he had been "deputized" by the governor. They told us they not only had authority to make arrests but also to use lethal force."

Get the feeling that things are spinning out of control?

And yet, the MSM has ignored this story. Pretty much all that has been printed mirrors the Washington Post coverage of Blackwater, which explains their presence as a matter of the rich hiring Security Guards to do such things as "protecting facilities that house "priceless art pieces" and special landmarks."

Once again, we need to look to blogs to get at the truth that our press seems to be incapable of reporting on.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

AFA Suggests God Destroyed New Orleans

Maybe I should not be so surprised, but in a commentary linked from the main page of the website of the perversely-named American Family Association, there is a strong suggestion that God destroyed New Orleans, and surrounding Mississippi, because of alleged sin.

In his Op-Ed piece, "God and Katrina," Matt Friedeman, a professor at the Wesley Biblical Seminary writes the following:

"This columnist has talked to many serious Christians about the tragedy of Katrina and the devastation it has wrought on Mississippi and Louisiana. The camps of thought seem two: God doesn't do things like this; and, God may well have done it, given the "sin city" nature of New Orleans and the casino-blighted coastline of Mississippi.

"It is most unpalatable, of course, to suggest divine wrath. But biblically there is such a thing, and to assume that such Godly interference with evil will never happen again in our "enlightened" age is folly. New Orleans, for one, was one formidable "sin city." "

So, apparently many 'serious' Christians have decided to judge the city of New Orleans and the neighboring casino-harboring communities of Mississippi as being acceptable targets for God's wrath.

Friedeman, in his self-righteousness, then adds: "Perhaps it is just coincidence, but "Katrina" comes from the Greek which means "purity." New Orleans could use some of that."

This prophet's remedy is simple....when rebuilding, he warns of the calamity that may result if "we should go back to decadence in New Orleans and casinos in Mississippi?

He closes with, "Here's hoping that we are not that deaf. Or, that stupid."

Actually, maybe the man is a little of both.


For my initial post, a bit of prophecy, courtesy of Michael Brown.

From March testimony to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, as reported at WorldNetDaily:

"Our nation is prepared, as never before, to deal quickly and capably with the consequences of disasters and other domestic incidents."

Well, certainly America has dealt with the Katrina aftermath as it never had responded to a national calamity before.

I also assume that the consequences of the PR disaster, for Bush & Co. will be dealt with quickly and capably.

That roar you hear in the distance is the waves of saliva being generated in Karl Rove's mouth as he sets the 'recovery' in motion.