Saturday, December 29, 2007

What's Time's Point?

It's almost 2 weeks later, but this is the perfect companion to the preceding piece.

Again, no pic will accompany this post, because the point of the message is the remarkable lack of judgement from the press.

The last post had to do with the media giving too much coverage to a mass murderer, granting his request for fame. And now, Time Magazine, needlessly names the 2 victims of a tiger mauling despite a request for privacy.
Brothers Paul Dhaliwal, 19, and Kulbir Dhaliwal, 23, were at San Francisco General Hospital with severe bite and claw wounds. Their names were provided by hospital and law enforcement sources who spoke on condition of anonymity because the family had not yet given permission to release their names.

Since it is apparent that the family did not want the names released at this time, why would Time publish their identity? To what purpose?

And how much did they pay their "anonymous sources" to give them the info?

What is wrong with the news media today?

Time should be ashamed of their coverage.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Giving Serial Killers What They Want

There is deliberately no picture accompanying this post, which will be brief.

For a change, it is not related to politics. It is an indictment of what passes for news in America.

In the aftermath of the mass murder in Omaha, I was appalled to see MSNBC endlessly stating that the killer had left behind a letter saying that he wanted to be famous. All the while, these dolts kept the man's face plastered and gave him all the publicity he ever could have wished for. How many times did we have to hear his Internet rants and read about the letters he left behind?

And don't think that similarly-inclined people did not notice.

I didn't need to switch to other news networks to know that MSNBC was not alone in their coverage. This was the way this story would be played out. They all try and out-sensationalize the other, and their judgement is pretty awful.

So, I was more than a little bit relieved to see that maybe we have reached the tipping point.

The AP has a good piece today on the sensationalization of that crime and a debate on the merits of not giving these killers the publicity they seek.

At least I know I am not alone in my disgust.

You can access the story here.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Monday, December 10, 2007

Dana Milbank Takes Mitt Romney To The Woodshed

In today's Washington Post, Dana Milbank has a devastating column on GOP candidate Mitt Romney.

In a piece titled, "Anything Goes," Milbank writes that Romney is such a panderer that "much of what Romney says can't stand up to the light of day."

He goes on to list examples from a stump speech that Romney gave in Des Moines, Iowa on Friday. They are scathing examples.

I have written about Romney in the past, including his ever-evolving opinions on glbt-issues. You see, he had to hold a different set of beliefs when he was running for Governor of Massachusetts, than he does now that he has to capture the right-wing of the GOP in a national election.

If ever a man was all facade, hypocrisy and pandering phoniness, Mitt Romney fits the bill.

What I find most shocking, however, is that a respected reporter with national creds actually had the cajones to call him out on it.

This article will haunt Romney for the rest of his quest for the GOP nomination. No way he'll get it, however. Stick a fork in him.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

The GOP Hypocrisy On Stem Cell Research

I was glad to see that the most popular article on the Time magazine website today had to do with a potential new breakthrough on stem cell research.

As somebody who has been very active in working with both Alzheimer's and Diabetes charitable organizations, I know the implications of stem cell research and the enormous upside. I understand why Nancy Reagan and most Americans are fully in favor of funding. I am also equally nauseated with the official Bush position, those of his lapdogs (like Rush Limbaugh) and the sickening religious right-wing, who still acts as if this is somehow an immoral practice.

As I have written in the past, it is hypocrisy to be against stem cell research if one is in favor of in vitro fertilization. That is because the embryos used for the research are taken from embryos harvested in fertility clinics, and which would be discarded anyway.

I am glad to see a widely read piece from Time saying the same thing.

Michael Kinsley, who suffers from Parkinson's, wrote,
"although the political dilemma that stem cells pose for politicians is real enough, the moral dilemma is not and never was. The embryos used in stem-cell research come from fertility clinics, which otherwise would discard them. This has been a powerful argument in favor of such research. Why let these embryos go to waste? But a more important point is, What about fertility clinics themselves? In vitro fertilization ("test-tube babies") involves the purposeful creation of multiple embryos, knowing and intending that most of them either will die after implantation in the womb or, if not implanted, will be discarded or frozen indefinitely. Even if all embryonic-stem-cell research stopped tomorrow, this far larger mass slaughter of embryos would continue. There is no political effort to stop it. Bush even praised in vitro fertilization in his 2001 speech about the horrors of stem-cell research. In vitro has become too popular for politicians to take on. But their failure to do so makes a mockery of their alleged agony over embryonic stem cells."

For the full text of his piece, click here.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Who Is Really Destabilizing Iraq?

In making his case against Iran, George Bush often uses the argument that it is the Iranians who are killing Americans in Iraq.

How interesting that new data from our own military, and published in today's New York Times, has revealed that 60% of the foreign fighters who are serving as suicide bombers, and engaging in other attacks in Iraq, hail from Saudi Arabia and Libya. A graphic representation of this, from the New York Times, is pictured above.

In fact, Saudi Arabia, BushCo's business partner, who provided 15 of the 19 terrorists who engineered the 9/11 attacks, provided a whopping 41% of foreign fighters. And, wouldn't you know, the impact of Iranian foreign forces is almost negligible, in comparison.

This begs the question...will Mr. Bush advocate an invasion of Saudi Arabia? Or of Libya, our newfound 'friend?'

Yeah, that will happen about as quickly as Halliburton offering their services at non-price-gouging rates.

It's all about the oil. Always is, and always was.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Bush: The Pro-Lie President

Who knew the Pillsbury Doughboy had the cajones to tell the truth about Dubya?

Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, whose press briefings I used to check out more regularly than I should probably admit, was almost a sympathetic figure in that capacity. He always came across to me as somebody who was in way over his head for the task required of him...very much like Mr. Bush himself, actually.

I was not surprised when he left. However, I never expected him to be a newsmaker in retirement.

Imagine my surprise when he leaked a bombshell, from his upcoming book about his White House experience, that essentially blames Bush and Veep Cheney as being part of a cabal of 5 that deliberately misled McClellan on the Plame incident. I am referring to the infamous press briefing where McClellan told reporters he had been assured by both Rove and Libby that they had nothing to do with leaking Plame's identity as a covert agent to reporters.

From a story today in AP,
"In an excerpt from his forthcoming book, McClellan recounts the 2003 news conference in which he told reporters that aides Karl Rove and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby were "not involved" in the leak involving operative Valerie Plame.

"'There was one problem. It was not true,' McClellan writes, according to a brief excerpt released Tuesday. 'I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest-ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice president, the president's chief of staff and the president himself.'"
Interestingly, we get no further details on what this means, as McClellan is refusing additional comment. However, if it is indeed true, the repercussions for whatever shred remains of Bush's credibility is enormous.

Forget about allegedly being pro-life, I have already discussed how ludicrous it is for folks like Bush to even use that term. This would solidify the Commander-in-Chief's standing as the first pro-lie president.

It's amazing what the lure of bucks and the marketing of a memoir will do to transform one's character, eh?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Giving Robert Novak Way Too Much Power

Columnist Robert Novak, who will always be a traitor in my eyes for leaking the identity of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame, in his role as propagandist for BushCo, is once again back in the news.

It has to do with today's Op-Ed column which starts out as follows:
"Agents of Sen. Hillary Clinton are spreading the word in Democratic circles that she has scandalous information about her principal opponent for the party's presidential nomination, Sen. Barack Obama, but has decided not to use it. The nature of the alleged scandal was not disclosed.

"This word-of-mouth among Democrats makes Obama look vulnerable and Clinton look prudent. It comes during a dip for the front-running Clinton after she refused to take a stand on New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's now discarded plan to give driver's licenses to illegal aliens.

"Experienced Democratic political operatives believe Clinton wants to avoid a repetition of 2004, when attacks on each other by presidential candidates Howard Dean and Richard Gephardt were mutually destructive and facilitated John Kerry's nomination."
After the fiasco of the Plame leak, and the growing lack of credibility for the term 'unnamed source,' this alleged "scandalous information" is weak enough. Coming from Novak, it is downright meaningless, not to mention ludicrous.

So, how absurd is it for Sen. Barack Obama to go ballistic and immediately assume that this is a maneuver by Sen. Hillary Clinton?

According to reports today, an Obama statement released yesterday asserted that,
"her campaign appeared to be either digging for dirt on his personal life or working in conjunction with Novak to intimidate him.

"'If the purpose of this shameless item was to daunt or discourage me or supporters of our campaign from challenging and changing the politics of Washington, it will fail. In fact, it will only serve to steel our resolve,' the Illinois senator said. He urged Clinton to 'either make public any and all information referred to in the item, or concede the truth: that there is none.'"
I am not a supporter of either Obama or Clinton, but I think this maneuver makes Sen. Obama look extremely weak. Why on earth would he give any credence to a story like this from Novak? What, does he think that Clinton will come forth and share the alleged dirt?

We are talking Robert Novak here. Discredited Robert Novak! The man who has demonstrated that he will sell the national security of the U.S. down the tubes to further the neo-con agenda.

What Novak did with his fraudulent news tip was not just attempt to discredit Obama, but also to stir up enmity against Clinton for supposedly having an aide leak the dirt to begin with.

The Clinton camp struck back hard, but it was hardly necessary. Novak, at the behest of GOP operatives, laid out the bait, and a desparate Obama took a great big chomp.

How nice of him to give Novak the credibility he so richly does not deserve.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

The Firefighters Talk About The Real 9/11 Rudy

I know that my last post covered much of the same ground, but this video from the firefighters union is a bit longer and should probably be the first video anyone watches when deciding whether or not to vote for Mr. Giuliani.

The only agenda the firefighters have is getting the truth out there.

Hopefully this video helps.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Making Rudy Giuliani Accountable

GOP front-runner for the presidential nomination, former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, is making a bizarro-world run for the White House. I use the term bizarro, because only in a society on the other side of the looking glass could such an inappropriate choice for Commander-in-Chief be coasting along with a double-digit lead.

Let me put it this way. Giuliani is basing his entire persona on this media-created perception that he was somehow the fearless leader and hero of 9/11. But New Yorkers know the truth. This egomaniac, who even uses $9.11 as a fund-raising tactic, was unfit to lead then, and is unfit to lead now.

Rather than tell the story of where Giuliani put the emergency control center and how gross mismanagement and possible corporate favoritism cost many firefighters their lives, I will let the following short film do the talking. It comes from

Please share the film with others and sign the petition on their website so that an official investigation can finally get underway.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Mukasey's Gonzalez Moment

After initially receiving rave reviews, something curious happened to U.S. Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey upon his return to the confirmation hearings.

The following bizarre exchange occurred at the 2nd confirmation hearing (transcript courtesy of the Blog of Legal Times):
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.): Just to finish that thought: So is waterboarding constitutional?
Mukasey: I don't know what's involved in the technique. If waterboarding is torture, torture is not constitutional.
Whitehouse: If water-boarding is constitutional is a massive hedge.
Mukasey: No, I said, if it's torture. I'm sorry. I said, if it's torture.
Whitehouse: If it's torture? That's a massive hedge. I mean, it either is or it isn't. Do you have an opinion on whether waterboarding, which is the practice of putting somebody in a reclining position, strapping them down, putting cloth over their faces and pouring water over the cloth to simulate the feeling of drowning -- is that constitutional?
Mukasey: If it amounts to torture, it is not constitutional.
Whitehouse: I'm very disappointed in that answer. I think it is purely semantic.
In an Op-Ed in the Los Angeles Times, Jonathan Turley wrote that Mukasey's answers on this specific torture led to the following conclusion:
"There are only two explanations for this answer, either of which should compel the senators to vote against confirmation. The first is that Mukasey is the most ill-informed nominee in the history of this republic. Torture, and water-boarding in particular, is one of the top issues facing the Justice Department, the subject of numerous lawsuits and one of the most obvious, predictable topics at the hearing. It has been discussed literally thousands of times in the media during the last six years. To say he is unfamiliar with the technique is perhaps the single greatest claim of ignorance since Clarence Thomas testified at his confirmation that he really had not thought enough about abortion to have an opinion on the subject.

"The second possibility is, unfortunately, the more likely explanation: Mukasey is lying."
To their credit, the 10 Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have sent a letter to Mr. Mukasey, seeking clarification on his position regarding waterboarding and torture.

Talking Post Memo posted the letter on their site. After education Mr. Mukasey about the history of waterboarding as torture, the letter directly asks if he feels that "waterboarding, or inducing the misperception of drowning, as an interrogation technique illegal under U.S. law, including treaty obligations."

I suspect that if Michael Mukasey chooses to once again couch his answers in semantics, he can forget about being confirmed.

We do not need a second Alberto Gonzales.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

New York Times Joins The Choir On Lack Of Congressional Leadership

In listening to Progressive talk radio, an ongoing reference is made to the fact that those in Democratic leadership roles choose to not give interviews with those pundits on the Left. It is in clear opposition to the fawning behavior of GOP pols to their mouthpieces on the Right.

To me, it is just another indication that the Dems continue to take their base for granted. It also indicates that they are continuing to allow the GOP to define them, constantly being re-active to GOP threats, and rarely being pro-active on issues of moral leadership. It is why I recently began dubbing them as GOP 'lite.' Corporate influence seems to be a weakness of both parties, obviously.

The problem has been that the Pelosis and Reids have been able to be dismissive of our views as somehow being those of some face-less fringe in the blogosphere. But now, we are finally getting some heavyweights (well, heavyweights with the professional politicians, at any rate) chiming in.

The latest punch to the gut has been delivered by the New York Times.

In an editorial in Saturday's paper, titled "With Democrats Like These...," the Dems get it with both barrels.

In registering their disillusionment over the fact that the Dem leadership does not get the damage being done to our Constitution over illegal wiretapping during the Bush monarchy, the editorial concludes,
"It was bad enough having a one-party government when Republicans controlled the White House and both houses of Congress. But the Democrats took over, and still the one-party system continues."
When it comes to defusing the White House argument about the importance of circumventing warrants, the overriding message should be that, without court oversight, there is nothing to stop a dictator from spying on their political enemies. It is the reason such protections are in place to begin with. Tamper with that fact and you alter the American way of life, allowing the terrorists to win. End of discussion.

Maybe the Speaker and the Senate Majority leader, not to mention the DNC, will begin to listen.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Pete Stark on the Iraq War and more

Rep. Pete Stark is taking a lot of heat from the Democratic leadership, over his stark...and refreshingly honest...comments about our Commander-in-Chief.

I do not believe Rep. Stark owes anyone an apology. In fact, we should call him to show our support and thank him. Then call Speaker of The House Pelosi and suggest she support Stark herself, instead of tearing him down.

Rep. Stark's home office is 510-494-1388. His D.C. answering machine is full, so I am posting this number instead.

Speaker Pelosi's D.C. # is (202) 225-4965. I already left her a message expressing my displeasure at her efforts to chastise Rep. Stark.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Support Sen. Chris Dodd On FISA Bill

Today, Sen. Chris Dodd announced that he would put a hold on an upcoming FISA Bill that, because of Democratic capitulation once again, would allow telecommunications companies who illegally spied on American citizens to receive retroactive amnesty.

This is not acceptable.

Please click on the above banner and it will take you directly to Sen. Dodd's site to include your name (and comments) in support of his action.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Schultz, SCHIP And The Challenge Of Battling Misinformation

Unfortunately, if a lie gets repeated often enough, it sometimes gets taken for truth. And the right-wing gameplan, as we all know, is not just to lie, but to lie repeatedly.

The most recent example of letting George Bush and the American Taliban get away with a non-truth occurred today on the Ed Schultz Show. I have great respect for Ed's work, but today he played the clip of Bush arguing that SCHIP should not be given to families that make $83,000. What Mr. Schultz did not do was show that the lie had previously been debunked. He merely let people articulate their opinions on the health care program, as if that was the point of demarcation.

I contacted Schultz and hopefully he will clarify the issue on his program. I sent him the following excerpt from a larger piece found at Think Progress and included the link, as well:

"One of most egregious canards being propogated by the White House about the SCHIP expansion is that it will provide health insurance for the wealthy. President Bush claimed at a press conference last week that Congress “made a decision to expand the eligibility up to $80,000. He repeated it in his Saturday radio address:

"BUSH: Their proposal would result in taking a program meant to help poor children and turning it into one that covers children in some households with incomes of up to $83,000 a year. [9/22/07]

"And the White House echoed the false talking point today in its official veto message to Congress:

"[T]he current bill goes too far toward federalizing health care and turns a program meant to help low-income children into one that covers children in some households with incomes of up to $83,000 a year. If H.R. 976 were presented to the President in its current form, he would veto the bill.

"However, no such proposal exists. The $83,000 figure comes from a request from New York to cover children in some slightly higher-income households because of the state’s high cost of living, but the final Congressional agreement put the poorest children “first in line” for benefits.

"Center for American Progress health care analyst Jeanne Lambrew notes that the section 106 of the bill specifically ensures that there will not be any expansion of eligibility. “It overwhelming targets resources to low-income children and it discourages expansion to families with more moderate incomes by lowering the share the federal government will pay for such coverage.”

"Angered by the White House’s false spin, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) fired back:

"“The president’s understanding of our bill is wrong,” Grassley said, his voice rising with anger. “I urge him to reconsider his veto message based on a bill we might pass, not something someone on his staff told him wrongly is in my bill.”

"Bush isn’t concerned about doling out tax cuts to the wealthy, but the mere false pretense of the well-off receiving health care is enough to make him veto benefits for 10 million children."

Obviously, the lower figure will have more relevance and resonance, but my greater point is that we really need to aggressively fact-challenge assertions by Bush and the GOP before repeating their misrepresentations.

I look forward to seeing how Ed Schultz responds.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Democratic Enablers & The Option

Leave it to Helen Thomas, the dean of the White House Press Corps, to bluntly spell out the truth about the ineffectiveness of the Democratic leadership in Congress.

In her syndicated column on Thursday, Thomas had this to say:
"President Bush has no better friends than the spineless Democratic congressional leadership and the party's leading presidential candidates when it comes to his failing Iraq policy.

"Those Democrats seem to have forgotten that the American people want U.S. troops out of Iraq, especially since Bush still cannot give a credible reason for attacking Iraq after nearly five years of war."

Thomas reserved her harshest criticism for the 3 leading Democratic contenders for the nomination, saying that they,
"sang from the same songbook: Sens. Hillary Clinton of New York, and Barack Obama of Illinois and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards refused to promise to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq by 2013, at the end of the first term of their hypothetical presidencies. Can you believe it?

"When the question was put to Clinton, she reverted to her usual cautious equivocation, saying: 'It is very difficult to know what we're going to be inheriting.'

"Obama dodged, too: 'I think it would be irresponsible' to say what he would do as president.

"Edwards, on whom hopes were riding to show some independence, replied to the question: 'I cannot make that commitment.'

"They have left the voters little choice with those answers."

Well, not exactly, but as is pretty clear, beyond those three that the media has annointed, clear options for ending this war, like those proposed by Rep. Dennis Kucinich, are being dismissed, or ignored. Kucinich just doesn't have the resources needed to play the game on a grand scale. His voice is not being heard.

Ms. Thomas also took to task Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who, she wrote,
"removed a provision from the most recent war-funding bill that would have required Bush to seek the permission of Congress before launching any attack on Iran. Her spokesman gave the lame excuse that she didn't like the wording of the provision. More likely, she bowed to political pressure."

This also is true. Rep. Pelosi has been a colossal disappointment. In my mind, her weakness on Iraq is just further proof that corporate influence has poisoned both political parties. The Dems are not nearly as thoroughly corrupted as the GOP, but they certainly do not represent the desires of the progressive base of the party.

Thomas concluded her piece by writing,
"Is it any wonder the Democrats are faring lower than the president in a Washington Post ABC approval poll? Bush came in at 33 percent and Congress at 29 percent.

"Members of Congress seem to have forgotten their constitutional prerogative to declare war; World War II was the last time Congress formally declared war.

"Presidents have found other ways to make end runs around the law, mainly by obtaining congressional authorization 'to do whatever is necessary' in a crisis involving use of the military. That's the way we got into the Vietnam and Iraq wars.

"So what are the leading Democratic White House hopefuls offering? It seems nothing but more war. So where do the voters go who are sick of the Iraqi debacle?"

I suspect that the only hope, at the moment, is a successful 'draft Al Gore' movement. I think he is the only one in the political landscape with the resources, and hence, the ability, to be a voice for progressives and thwart the potential Hillary/Rudy slimefest that could ultimately become Election '08.

For the full text of Helen Thomas' column, click here.

For more information on a move to draft Gore, click here.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Bush, Blackwater & Occupation Profiteering

Ongoing investigations currently underway by Rep. Harry Waxman, chair of the House oversight committee, very clearly shows how George Bush and his corporatist cronies have been using the conflict in the Middle East to fatten their wallets.

According to reports, Waxman is investigating whether the Inspector General of the State Department, Howard Krongard, the chief auditor on overseas contracts, may have threatened the jobs of whistleblowers in the State Department who have complained that Krongard has prevented any examination of corruption by Blackwater and other private contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan.

If true, and I have read enough on this over the past few years to convince me it is, think about the implications.

George Bush thinks it is wasteful to help uninsured children get medical insurance. Yet he sees no reason to make sure that the billions earmarked for his Iraqi incursion are actually accounted for.

Why would you not want accountability for the firms that you are entrusting taxpayer money to? Further, what is the economic sense to have no-bid contracts? Additionally, why would you appoint somebody as Inspector General with no background in the State Department. And why would this person be against accountability, which is the essence of his job description?

If any other event in the news more exposes the truth about BushCo and our involvement in Iraq, I can't think of it. Now let's see how the media handles the truth.

The Los Angeles Times report on the story can be found here. The Washington Post also has a good report on it here.

To follow the story directly from Rep. Waxman's committee, just point your browser here.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Democrats Have Morphed Into 'GOP Lite'

It's official. This week the curtain has been pulled back and the Democrats have revealed themselves to be nothing more than the 'GOP lite.'

The Dems don't have the numbers, nor the political savvy, to challenge George Bush on Iraq. Yet, they are so cowed by the opposition that the only legislation they can pass is an attack on

Today, the House overwhelmingly passed a resolution condemning by an absurd vote of 341-79. When Max Cleland and John Kerry had their military records and patriotism attacked, was there a vote of censure? When Bush and his minions said that a vote for the Dems was a victory for the terrorists was there legislation passed calling the GOP out on their vile strategy?

Of course there wasn't.

There is a pretty clear record of Bush using the military to misrepresent reality to the American people, or have we forgotten the lessons of Gen. Colin Powell's selling of the war? I do not believe that Gen. Petraeus is accurately depicting the war as it is. What I do believe is that he is the lead salesman for BushCo. We now learn that the Democrats are in collusion with the Republicans to continue this occupation.

It's The Oil, Stupid!

You see, it's all about oil and corporatism and those corporations not only have the GOP in their hip pocket. They have the Dems as well.

In addition to their shameful vote on MoveOn, the Dems have allowed an anti-Iranian resolution to pass in the Senate which will make things much easier for Bush to invade Iran. I must say, I find the ineffectiveness of the Dems fairly shocking and demoralizing.

Hey, I am not a fan of Iran. I think Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a bit of a moron. In that respect, he is the intellectual equal of George Bush. But why are we simply going after Iran when it is clear that the Saudis are supplying munitions to Iraq? The Saudis get away with everything they do (feel free to include 9/11) because they have been longtime business associates of the Bush family.

Assuming that former Vice President Al Gore chooses not to run, I have already made a personal decision to only support Rep. Dennis Kucinich for President (at least through the primaries) and only contribute to candidates with proven progressive records. For the first time I have made a contribution to MoveOn. I will never give another dime to the DNC. Or any other organization that represents the party.

The bottom line, the Democrats could not have done more to turn me off to the party if they had tried...and I am definitely somebody who has been a core supporter and a progressive activist. I assume I am not alone in feeling betrayed.

Give the Republicans credit. At least they have the courage of their convictions. The Democrats, on the other hand, are spineless panderers.

UPDATE: In a story that crossed at about 10:15PM, the AP reports on tonight's Democratic candidate debate with the following lead line:
"The leading Democratic presidential hopefuls conceded Wednesday night they cannot guarantee to withdraw all U.S. combat troops from Iraq by 2013, the end of the next president's first term."

Could Clinton, Obama and Edwards have confirmed my assessment of the Dems any more clearly?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Neo-Con Right-Wing Urges Attack On Iran

The fanatical, neo-con right continues to encourage the absurdist foreign policy of a pre-emptive strike on Iran.

Check out this alarmist advice by right-wing extremist Dan Friedman on the American Thinker website:
"..Now for the good news. All the damaging consequences of all the blunders the President has committed to date in Iraq are reversible in 48- to 72-hours - the time it will take to destroy Iran's fragile nuclear supply chain from the air. And since the job gets done using mostly stand-off weapons and stealth bombers, not one American soldier, sailor or airman need suffer as much as a bruised foot.

"Let's look downstream the day after and observe how the world has changed.

"First and foremost, there's this prospective fait accompli -- and it changes everything. The Iranians are no longer a nuclear threat, and won't be again for at least another decade, and even that assumes the strategic and diplomatic situation reverts to the status quo ante and they'll just be able to pick up and rebuild as they would after an earthquake. Not possible.

"Next, the Iranians would do nothing -- bupkes. They don't attack Israel, they don't choke off the world's oil supply, they do not send hit squads to the United States, there is no "war" in the conventional sense of attack counterattack. Iran already has its hands full without inviting more trouble. Its leaders would be reeling from the initial US attack and they would know our forces are in position to strike again if Iran provokes us or our allies. They would stand before mankind with their pants around their ankles, dazed, bleeding, crying, reduced to bloviating from mosques in Teheran and pounding their fists on desks at the UN. The lifelines they throw to the Iraqi insurgents, Hezbollah and Syria would begin to dry up, as would the lifelines the double-dealing Europeans have been throwing to Iran. Maybe the Mullahs would lose control.

"Strong tremors would be felt throughout the Islamic ummah. "Just as we feared, they finally called our bluff. We pushed America to the limit and America pushed us back twice as hard. Looks who's the dhimmi now! Uh, maybe we need to rethink this 7th century Jihad crap -- as well as the Jihadist idiots around here. This is all turning out to be more trouble than it's worth."

"Miracles would be seen here at home. Democratic politicians are dumbstruck, silent for a week. With one swing of his mighty bat, the President has hit a dramatic walk-off homerun. He goes from goat to national hero overnight. The elections in November are a formality. Republicans keep the White House and recapture both houses of Congress. Hillary is elected president - of the Chappaqua PTA.

"Going forward, with Iran's influence blunted and the insurgents cut off, we end the war in Iraq on our terms. In his first hundred days, the new president reads Iraq the riot act and tells its leaders if they don't pull themselves together by a date certain, America will decide they're not worth the candle and we're going to get out."

"From that point on, with our arms free of the quicksand, we can fight the war on terror the way it should have been fought in the first place. Using our enormous edge in weapons, intelligence and technology, and building on it, we launch quick, lethal, ad hoc strikes wherever in the world we determine terrorists are working to harm us, shooting first and asking for permission later."

That sort of assessment is right up there with the fantasy that our invasion of Iraq would lead us to be treated like heroic liberators!

If that sort of advice scares you, consider is exactly the sort of advice Goerge Bush is getting from Dick Cheney.

Knowledge is power and knowing the scary foreign policy that is being dictated from the neo-con right-wing is the first step in insuring that they don't realize their objectives under their usual shroud of secrecy and darkness.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Another Shining Olbermann Moment

Thank heavens for Keith Olbermann. After putting up with the surreal political news of the past several days, I was desperately in need of a respite.

I mean seriously, the Senate can't prevent a filibuster on providing fairer leave for our soldiers overseas....we can't vote on any meaningful solution to the occupation of Iraq....yet we can unite to denounce an ad from!

Thanks to the absurd reaction to that advertisement, I contributed to that organization for the first time. I hope others will do the same.

Olbermann, on his return to MSNBC following the removal of his appendix, was devastatingly brilliant, as usual. Progressives cannot fail to be impressed by his honesty, fierceness and passion. It is so lacking in today's faux news universe that one can't help but be blown away by this great orator's skills.

As for Keith Olbermann's Special Comment, I will let his words speak for themselves. I am providing the text of the first few minutes. For the complete text, click here. You can access the video here.

Keith Olbermann
Special Comment: The President Of Hypocrisy 9-20-07

So the President, behaving a little bit more than usual, like we'd all interrupted him while he was watching his favorite cartoons on the DVR, stepped before the press conference microphone and after side-stepping most of the substantive issues like the Israeli raid on Syria in condescending and infuriating fashion, produced a big-wow political finish that indicates, certainly, that if it wasn't already -- the annual Republican witch-hunting season is underway.

"I thought the ad was disgusting. I felt like the ad was an attack not only on General Petraeus, but on the U.S. Military.

"And I was disappointed that not more leaders in the Democrat party spoke out strongly against that kind of ad.

"And that leads me to come to this conclusion: that most Democrats are afraid of irritating a left-wing group like Move-On-Dot-Org -- or **more** afraid of irritating them, than they are of irritating the United States military."

"That was a sorry deal."

First off, it's "Democrat-ic" party, Sir.

You keep pretending you're not a politician, so stop using words your party made up. Show a little respect.

Secondly, you could say this seriously after the advertising/mugging of Senator Max Cleeland? After the swift-boating of John Kerry?

But most importantly... making that the last question?

So that there was no chance at a follow-up?

So nobody could point out -- as Chris Matthews so incisively did, a week ago tonight -- that you were the one who inappropriately interjected General Petraeus into the political dialogue of this nation in the first place!

Deliberately, premeditatedly, and virtually without precedent, **you** shanghaied a military man as your personal spokesman -- and now you're complaining about the outcome, and then running away from the microphone?

Eleven months ago the President's own party -- the Republican National Committee -- introduced this very different kind of advertisement, just nineteen days before the mid-term elections.

Bin Laden.

And Zawahiri's rumored quote of six years ago about having bought "suitcase bombs."

All set against a ticking clock, and finally a blinding explosion... and the dire announcement:

"These are the stakes - vote, November 7th."

That one was ok, Mr. Bush?

Terrorizing your own people in hopes of getting them to vote for your own party has never brought as much as a public comment from you?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

UF Police Taser Student During Kerry Forum

My hiatus from posting is now officially at an end.

The shocking non-reaction of Sen. John Kerry as a protesting student gets tasered by cops should sound the death knell of his political career.

It so happens that I am in the middle of reading the book that student was holding up, Armed Madhouse by Greg Palast.

Today, the cowardly Kerry issued a mealy-mouthed denial that he did not know what was going on. Oh really?

All Kerry had to do was insist that the cops let the student alone, but in typical Kerry fashion he did not.

I would like to know the criminal statute that allows uncomfortable questions to be answered with tasers. I hope this kids sues the living daylights out of that police department and that school.

As I e-mailed Kerry's office today, I will actively support whoever runs against this man in any future election.

Welcome to Nazi Germany. It's closer than you think.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Washington Post's 'Phony' Editorial

Leave it to Washington Post editorial page editor Fred Hiatt to distill the real problem with our Iraqi's Sen. Harry Reid's fault!

Incredulously, in a Saturday editorial, WaPo accuses the Democrats of demagoguery and Sen. Reid, specifically, of "cynical politicking and willful blindness to the stakes in Iraq."

A close inspection of the editorial reads like a summary of RNC talking points.

The piece is headlined, "The Phony Debate." The only thing I found to be phony was the editorial itself.

Typical of this editorial's curious escape from reality is the following "inescapable fact":
"a complete pullout from Iraq would invite genocide, regional war and a catastrophic setback to U.S. national security."

Huh? Isn't that what has already occurred?

The Iraqi government wants us out. Their people want us out. The American people have clearly asked for an exit strategy. And the Democrats have clearly stated that they want to immediately switch from combat operations to a course that seeks a diplomatic resolution of the crisis that involves talking to Iraq's neighbors.

The only people who state the Iraqi problem as incorrectly and inarticulately as this shameless Op-Ed does are GOP operatives. Doesn't Mr. Hiatt read his own paper?

How can any sane person recommend 'staying the course' and letting more American lives be lost in a month when both the Iraqi and American politicians have chosen to take a vacation.

There is a reason this editorial was posted on a Saturday, where it would get the minimal amount of exposure, and not a Sunday, where it would reach the most readers. Hiatt would like his piece to be used in GOP debating points, but would prefer his readership not be exposed to his obvious pandering to Bush and his enablers.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

American Ignorance Part Of The Problem

An opinion poll on Scooter Libby that surfaced last week is illustrative of what drives me crazy about American politics. Too many Americans have no desire to learn the truth. They shroud themselves in ignorance.

How else to explain a SurveyUSA news poll on the Scooter Libby case that was done on July 2nd? Despite the fact that the trial over the leaking of Valerie Plame's identity has been in the news for many months, and that Libby's conviction for perjury and obstruction of justice, and the subsequent commutation of his sentence by George W. Bush, has received significant press, this survey showed that a whopping 41% of Americans were not familiar with this case.

41% did not know enough about the Scooter Libby conviction to comment??? Even more shocking, the majority of the nation's women, 51%, were not familiar with it.

And it gets more absurd. When identified by ideology, liberals were the group that were the most ignorant, with 44% professing no familiarity with the case.

While most pundits focused on the 60% of those who were familiar with the case disagreeing with the presidential commutation, nobody pointed out the distressing number of uninformed Americans.

No wonder King George gets away with so much. He leads a populace that has no interest in getting at the truth.

The survey results can be found here.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Justice Turned Upside Down in Bush's America

Two recent stories tell you all you need to know about how George W. Bush has transformed America...and not for the better.

Pedro Guzman

Last month, 29-year old Los Angeles resident Pedro Guzman was deported, although he is American.

Despite the fact that this man is developmentally disabled, he was tossed out like garbage into Tijuana, Mexico, where he has now simply disappeared.

As the Los Angeles Times said in an editorial yesterday:
"Arrested for trespassing at an airplane junkyard, Guzman was questioned while in the custody of the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department and, perhaps because of his disability, mistaken for an illegal immigrant. He was turned over to immigration authorities, who deported him to Tijuana. He then promptly disappeared. Despite their frantic attempts to find him, Guzman's family has not heard from him since May 11. What that means is that Guzman's trespass has earned him a sentence of banishment and disappearance, a fate common in third-rate dictatorships but abhorred in civilized nations. And the federal government's response has been to evade responsibility and to refuse the family's pleas for help."
Making matters worse, on Wednesday, a federal judge chose not to order the government to search for the missing man, though he said that it was "right" and "moral" for the U.S. to do whatever it could to find Mr. Guzman.

What insanity! The government, on its own, does not realize the gravity of what they have done? Having made such a grave error, they do not have the decency to correct it, putting the man and his family through hell? This is America?

Keith Bowles

Speaking of the inhumanity of George Bush's America, look at this recent decision by the Supreme Court.

Last week the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that Keith Bowles, a man who was 2 days late filing an appeal on a murder conviction, because a judge gave him wrong information on the filing deadline, was plum out of luck.

The New York Times, in a Sunday editorial wrote:
"The decision was wrong for many reasons. The Supreme Court has made clear in its past rulings that deadlines like this are not make-or-break. Appeals could still be heard, the court recognized in the past, if there were “unique circumstances” that accounted for the delay. Clearly, following an order from a federal judge is such a circumstance.

"Courts also have the authority to create an exception to the rules in the interest of fairness. The Supreme Court has recognized that an 'equitable exception' should be granted when a party has relied on an order from a federal judge. By refusing to do so now, Justice David Souter argued for the dissenters, the court was saying that 'every statement by a federal court is to be tagged with the warning ‘Beware of the judge.’

"The four dissenters distilled this case perfectly when they said, 'it is intolerable for the judicial system to treat people this way.'"

The Washington Post, in their Sunday editorial, agreed, subtitling their piece, "The Supreme Court's doctrine of tough luck."

That brilliant legal mind, Justice Clarence Thomas, wrote the majority opinion. He was joined, predictably by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.(anybody think that was now a good selection?), and Justices Samuel A. Alito Jr. (ditto), Antonin Scalia, and, most disappointingly, Anthony M. Kennedy, who has been siding with the 4 stooges as of late.

In an America that would be controlled by the GOP, justice and fairness are best viewed through the looking glass. In the real world, it is now all topsy-turvy.

This is something every voter should consider first when going to cast their ballots, come election time.

Monday, June 11, 2007

From 'No Confidence' To Impeachment

So much for Senate Democrats having the opportunity to bring up a 'no confidence' vote on beleaguered Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. The Senate, voted 53-38 today in favor of a motion to bring the 'no confidence' resolution to full debate. 60 votes were required. Thus, there will be no vote.

The GOP, following RNC talking points, have banded together to use this as an opportunity to target Democrats as ineffectual and have accused them of merely playing politics.

The L.A. Times describes the strategy as follows:
"The policymaking Senate Republican Conference began circulating a series of talking points Friday urging Republicans to vote against the no-confidence resolution.

"'This is a political stunt, a waste of time that distracts from more important Senate business, and is offensive to basic constitutional principles,' according to a copy of the GOP talking points obtained by the Los Angeles Times."

Since, the Democrats remain incapable of spinning these stories, this strategy of blaming the Democrats appears to be working.

In the aftermath of this story, we have been treated to endless sound bites from George Bush, Tony Snow, Trent Lott and the lockstep GOP robots talking about the meaninglessness of a 'no confidence' vote and how the Democrats are merely playing politics.

To a degree, they are right. What is with the Democrat's timid approach in dealing with the GOP?

It may not pass, but if the Democrats really want to send a message they would have tried to set in motion an impeachment proceeding against Mr. Gonzales. Maybe it would fail, but there is no that way the GOP could say that the Dems were merely introducing legislation that had no teeth.

As the GOP games continue and the Democrats allow themselves to be portrayed as weaklings, it is high time that Dems rolled up their sleeves.

What have they got to lose?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

To Dream the Impeachable Dream

Last week, former Deputy Attorney General James Comey testified before the Senate judiciary committee, regarding a bizarre showdown with then-White House counsel Alberto Gonzales.

For those who have yet to hear about, what Washington Post columnist, Eugene Robinson, refers to as 'Gonzales's signature moment,' I direct you to his slam-dunk piece on the events of March 10, 2004, here.

Gonzales is merely the gravy

While much of the media seems to be focusing on how the Comey testimony may finally be the last straw that brings down the numbingly, self-absorbed, inept, (and amnesiac) Attorney General, I think we are seeing the beginning of a much larger story. The impeachment of George Bush.

If Comey's testimony is true, there is a very real possibility that Mr. Bush pushed his wiretapping program through, even when he knew that his own Justice Department refused to sign off on it, over questions about the program's constitutionality.

Thus far, Bush is simply refusing to answer questions about the incident. However, the testimony from Comey cannot help create some new, very troubling questions about the judgement of 'the decider.'

If Bush truly pushed down America's throat, for however long, a surveillance program directed at American citizens, that he knew had no constitutional merit, he may have finally crossed the line into impeachable territory, if he wasn't there already.

I am beginning to think that Gonzales may only be the gravy in this case. Mr. Bush, himself, needs to give us some serious and revelatory answers about the program he foisted upon us, especially before it was allegedly amended. Will America tolerate a leader deliberately acting outside the rule of law, who defines everything that he does as tacitly legal?

Examining the assaults on our civil liberties

Unfortunately, the Democrats have hardly looked into the NSA wiretapping program and the various assaults to our civil liberties under Bush. At the very least, this should get them off their duffs.

If a stained blue dress can lead to impeachment hearings, then this deserves a much closer look.

Monday, April 23, 2007

You're Doing A Heckuva Job, Gonzo

By all accounts, the testimony of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales before the Senate Judiciary Committee was an unmitigated disaster.

When pressed to explain key discrepancies in previous statements over the firing of 8 U.S. Attorneys, Gonzales had a very fuzzy memory. 71 separate times, the embattled Attorney General couldn't remember important details.

He couldn't even recall details of a conversation between himself and a president. This alone should prove one thing...Gonzales is either a liar, or grossly incompetent.

I am not sure what would be worse, the fact that Mr. Gonzales deliberately misrepresented his role in the firings to save his hide, or the fact that he really left such important decisions to judicial neophytes such as Monica Goodling, who got their degrees from Pat Robertson's Regent University School of Law.

The fact that antipathy for the man crossed party lines and enjoyed rare bipartisan support should have sent the loud-and-clear message to the White House that the Attorney General needed to be replaced. In the case of the Attorney General it is very hard to keep up morale in the Justice Department when your leader has lost their credibility. The position means far more than merely carrying George's is a post that is supposed to serve the American people, not merely Rove & Partners.

So, in that context, it is utterly both shocking, and totally revealing, to see the response of George Bush today.

If there was any doubt that Bush is the single worst leader this nation has ever seen, and an intellectual dullard to boot, it came with the following pronouncement today, regarding Gonzales' testimony. Bush said that Gonzales "went up and gave a very candid assessment, and answered every question he could possibly answer, honestly answer, in a way that increased my confidence in his ability to do the job."

Gonzales couldn't remember key details 71 times and that "increased" his confidence??? Why not just come right out and say, you're doing a heckuva job Gonzo? It would leave the same ironic taste.

Can January of 2009 come fast enough to save this nation?

One can only hope.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

McCain & The GOP Iraqi Brigade: Escape From Reality

With all the reports on daily violence in Iraq, the latest comments by Sen. John McCain and some of his fellow Republicans, currently touring the war-torn nation, are stupefying.

It's the media, stupid

According to Sen. McCain, the real problem is the media. The former Vietnam War POW said in a news conference, reported on by the Associated Press, that Americans were not getting the "full picture" of progress.

Sen. McCain, speaking under heavy guard, at a press conference in Baghdad's Green Zone, said,
"The American people are not getting the full picture of what’s happening here. They’re not getting the full picture of the drop in murders, the establishment of security outposts throughout the city, the situation in Anbar province, the deployment of additional Iraqi brigades which are performing well, and other signs of progress having been made."
Drop in murders? What alternative universe is this man living in? We even had an increase in U.S. troop deaths in March, the first full month of Bush's 'surge.'

Additionally, our history in Iraq shows that whatever short term gains are made when added troops go in to 'clean up' an area, the situation reverts back as soon as troops withdraw.

To get a sense of just how out of touch this man is, here are some other nuggets from the AP article:
"McCain said the Republican congressional delegation he led to Iraq drove from Baghdad’s airport to the center of the city, citing that as proof that security was improving in the capital. Prominent visitors normally make the trip by helicopter."
So, the fact that they did not travel by helicopter is significant? Perhaps, they could make their trip because, as the article further stated,
"The delegation was accompanied by heavily armed U.S. troops when they were not in the Green Zone, site of the U.S. Embassy and Iraqi government. They traveled in armored military vehicles under heavy guard."
Conveniently, McCain visited areas that were the focus of the surge, ignoring the fact that violence has been getting displaced to other parts of Iraq, with no let up in the brutality.

What points would the McCain Sunshine Tour like the media to report on? The 4 hours a day that Iraqi neighborhoods may actually have electricity and running water? The finding of 48 severed heads, as opposed to 50?

Dumb and Dumber

Fortunately, for McCain, he is accompanied by other robots from his party, so some of the truly inane comments are not solely his domain. For example, that bastion of truth, Sen. Lindsey Graham, had this to say,
“It will be a huge mistake to set a deadline. It [the U.S. troop surge] is working. We are doing now what we should have done three years ago. ... The Iraqi people want their own destiny but they don’t have the capabilities yet”
Doing what we should have done 3 years ago? How comforting that must be to the families of the troops that have died in that 3 year stretch of wasted time? The Iraqis who have lost their loved ones in that period must have appreciated it as well.

As for not setting deadlines....if you never set a deadline to pull out, you can never leave. I fear, that is what the Republicans want. A permanent presence in Iraq that serves the corporate interests of the oil conglomerates that control our foreign policy and dictate the GOP platform.

And, if Graham is so in favor or Iraqi people setting their own destiny why does he not care about the opinion polls in Iraq that show the vast majority do not want us there?

Greeting us like liberators?

According to AP,
"Delegation members, who included Rep. Mike Pence, a Republican from Indiana, and Rep. Rick Renzi, an Arizona Republican, spoke glowingly of an hour they spent in the Bab al-Sharqi market, which was hit by a suicide bomber on Jan. 22. At least 88 people died in the attack.

"The congressmen said they were impressed with the resilience and warmth of the Iraqi people, some of whom they said would not take their money for souvenirs the delegation bought."
They wouldn't take your money Rick? That couldn't possibly have anything to do with the men with guns that accompanied you on your shopping excursion?

No, of course not.

The Iraqis are so overjoyed that we have come to liberate them and are prospering so much in the post-Sadaam era, that they want you to take as many souvenirs as you want.

Maybe you would be interested in some skull fragments? I hear they make great necklaces.

Keeping the bar low

And, just to make sure that news will not get in the way of the abject futility of the mission, expectations have been set way low. How else to explain the following:
"Speaking at a joint news conference with al-Moussawi, U.S. military spokesman Rear Adm. Mark Fox also expressed confidence in the security sweep, saying half of the U.S. troop reinforcements are in place, but he warned it would not be easy to pacify the capital and asked for patience.

"'The effort to exert security in Iraq will take time,' Fox said. 'Our job will not be accomplished within days or weeks.'

'We are going to see more violence in the coming weeks and months,' he added."
In other words, 'ignore the violence, it is irrelevant.' And, 'don't even think of trying to find a way to determine if the strategy is actually working. We'll let you know.'

If Sen. McCain was looking for good news to report, this should have made him warm all over,
"Underscoring security concerns, Fox said two suicide vests were found unexploded Saturday in the Green Zone, less than a week after a rocket attack killed two Americans in the vast central area."
Wow! Isn't that encouraging! Somebody found a way to get 2 suicide vests into the Green Zone, but whoever did thought selling it on E-Bay would be more beneficial than the virgins one would acquire in the hereafter.

This is progress?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Oversight & Enacting Legislation Not Mutually Exclusive

There was a rather curious opinion piece in the Washington Post today by David Broder, in which he criticized the Democratic majority for allegedly pursuing investigations of the White House at the expense of enacting legislation.

Revelation, not legislation?

As Broder wrote:
"Ten weeks into the new Congress, it is clear that revelation, not legislation, is going to be its real product.

"While President Bush threatens to use his veto pen to stop some bills and Senate Republicans block other measures from even reaching his desk, no force in Washington can halt the Democrats' investigative juggernaut from uncovering the secrets inside this administration."
Yet, following that, Broder comes up with the precise reasons why it is so important for the oversight investigations to go forward.

Why congressional oversight is so important

Regarding the prior lack of oversight, Broder observed:
"A Congress under firm Republican control was somnolent when it came to oversight of the executive branch. No Republican committee chairman wanted to turn over rocks in a Republican administration.

"You have to feel a twinge of sympathy now for the Bush appointees who suddenly find unsympathetic Democratic chairmen such as Henry Waxman, John Conyers, Patrick Leahy and Carl Levin investigating their cases. Even if those appointees are scrupulously careful about their actions now, who knows what subpoenaed memos and e-mails in their files will reveal about the past?

"They will pay the price for the temporary breakdown in the system of checks and balances that occurred between 2001 and this year -- when the Republican Congress forgot its responsibility to hold the executive branch accountable.

"It was a fundamental dereliction of duty by Congress, and it probably did more to encourage bad decisions and harmful actions by executive-branch political appointees than the much-touted lobbying influence. In reality, many Republican members of Congress did not mind what was happening because they were able to get favors done in that permissive climate. Now, the Democratic investigators will publicize instances of influence by members of Congress, and the political fallout will not stop with New Mexico's Pete Domenici and Heather Wilson."
Referring to 6 years of an oversight-free presidency as simply a temporary breakdown is a bit naive. Looking at the chaos a leash-free neo-con cabal has brought to global affairs will surely demonstrate that.

To me, one cannot legislate without at first making an attempt to get at some of the truth...a truth long denied to Congress.

Broder even acknowledges that the new majority party is "stymied by Republican opposition." Besides, Democrats do not have veto-proof majorities, so how much legislation can they realistically seek to get passed, on Iraq, for instance? They cannot even bust a presidential veto on stem-cell research which has widespread bipartisan support.

Yes, Mr. Broder, they can multi-task

So, what is Broder's point, as he closes with:
"Accountability is certainly important, but Democrats must know that people were really voting for action on Iraq, health care, immigration, energy and a few other problems. Investigations are useful, but only legislation on big issues changes lives."
There is no point, because oversight and enacting legislation are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, investigations that unearth unethical chicanery by the White House will more likely encourage others in the GOP to side with Democrats that seek reform and a change in direction.

Mr. Broder has to know that not only can investigations ultimately aid future legislation, but that Congress should be expected to have multi-tasking capabilities. So why does he seem so concerned that lawmakers may actually be doing their job?

Could it be that maybe we'll learn that the GOP was in bed with the press all along? That, somehow, the media was complicit in the scams perpetrated by Bushco?

Broder's column can be found here.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Warding Off 'The Coultergeist'

MSNBC's Keith Olbermann has my favorite way of referring to Ann Coulter. He calls her "the Coultergeist."

Ann of the thousand slurs

The Coultergeist was in rare form Friday at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

After being warmly welcomed by her favorite candidate, Mitt Romney, Ann Coulter made the following comment:
"Oh, and I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate, John Edwards. But it turns out that you have to go into rehab if you use the word 'faggot,' so I'm -- so I'm kind of at an impasse, can't really talk about Edwards."
Of course, that comment was greeted by the predictable adulation by members of the coven (audience) who think of Coulter as a rock star.

Equally predictable is the silence of the mainstream media. They continue to use her as a frequent guest and continue to bestow credibility upon her that she does not deserve.

Lukewarm rebukes and Edwards' response

And then, we have yet to hear the candidates distance themselves. Would Mitt Romney dare to distance himself from Coulter after receiving such lavish praise? Well, not until he has at least snared the nomination and then tries to reinvent himself as a true moderate for a general election.

Today saw some very mild rebukes from the various campaigns. The McCain and Giuliani camps issued statements deeming the comments "inappropriate." Romney's retort was even more pathetic, merely stating that everyone should be treated with dignity and respect. It's still unclear if that comment was aimed at gay people or the Coultergeist, herself.

John Edwards' campaign team responded aggressively and creatively. According to CNN,
"Edwards' campaign posted the video on their Web site, and asked readers to help them 'raise $100,000 in 'Coulter Cash' this week to keep this campaign charging ahead and fight back against the politics of bigotry.'"
I think the response of the Edward's camp, using this as a means to generate money, was spot on.

The Phelps' model

Years ago, when Fred Phelps' clan began picketing funerals of gay men who had died of AIDS (a practice they later expanded to include picketing the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq), a great idea was born.

I do not recall the group that initiated the practice, but the appearance of the hate-mongers was used as an opportunity to raise money for groups that fight hate and intolerance. It's possible that money was even being raised to generate funding for pro-gay marriage initiatives.

The tactic turned a negative into a positive. Since the group was going to picket anyway, and they were going to get their coverage, this somewhat defused the event by making clear that it would make money for the causes that those people so detested.

This move from the Edwards campaign works in the same way. It tells the Coultergeist that if she wants to continue to spew her hatred it will only make it that much easier for the Democratic candidates to raise money.

Further action

However, there are other things that need to be done.

We need to make sure that there is an 'appropriate' response from both the media and the other GOP candidates. A response with teeth in it.

In the past, Coulter has gotten away with outrageous comments and been allowed to remain a credible participant in the political process.

Media Matters always seems to set the right tone for responding. In this case, they asked the following:
"Will the media -- including the "mainstream media" figures Romney said attended his speech -- ask Romney whether he will repudiate Coulter's apparent endorsement?

"Will the media ask the other Republican presidential candidates and potential candidates participating in CPAC -- including Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich, Duncan Hunter, and Mike Huckabee -- whether they will seek the votes of the CPAC attendees who cheered Coulter's smear of Edwards?"
It's one thing for McCain and Giuliani to suggest that the comments are "inappropriate," and it's quite another to act upon it. It's one thing for Romney to talk about dignity, and quite another to be enriched by the person who makes a career of making undignified, hate-filled remarks.

What you can do

On a personal note, contacting any media outlet that continues to give Coulter a platform is a good start towards making the Coultergeist responsible for what she says. Contacting one's local paper, as well as one's local politicians, asking them to repudiate Coulter's comments, should also be part of a creative response.

Let her hate speech inspire us to activism. That is the response Coulter most dreads. Creatures like the Coultergeist always thrive most in the darkness, while the populace is in a deep slumber.

It's time to wake up.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Snow Job: Personification of A Bush Talking Point

There was a time when I would catch a televised daily briefing by Tony Snow, because I wanted to see how the replacement for Scott McClellan was able to improve on the former press secretary's excruciating performance.

That didn't last very long.

You see, Mr. Snow is far worse.

Snow piled high

Where once we just had a figurehead who could parrot talking points, but not speak out of the box, now we have a man who is very creatively mean-spirited, arrogant and uninformative.

I had taken a sabbatical from reading Dan Froomkin's White House Watch in the Washington Post. I am glad I checked out his column on Tony Snow today.

Froomkin writes,
"Snow's glib, confrontational approach to reporters -- rarely giving straight answers to even the simplest and most legitimate questions -- has made him a hero to Bush partisans and a darling of the right-wing media.

"But it's becoming increasingly clear that the fears that some journalists had when Snow first came to the job from Fox News last May have been realized.

"Not surprisingly, considering his background, Snow seems to treat his encounters with the press more like a cable show than as an opportunity to provide the public with a fuller picture of what's going on inside the White House. His prime goal seems to be to "win the half hour" -- which generally entails out-talking and mocking your opponent, rather than mustering facts and actually staking out a persuasive position."
Any doubts about the man's slanting and spinning are dispelled when Froomkin refers to his campaigning for the GOP and possibly running for office himself. How can this man claim any credibility?

Snow storm

As to his demeanor, and Snow's ability to factually represent the Bush administration's policies, Froomkin sticks in the dagger:
"From his very first formal briefing, on May 16, Snow has often put his foot in it. (At that one, he said his reaction to the 2,500th American death in Iraq was that 'it's a number' and he used a phrase -- 'tar baby' -- that some consider racist.)

"And he is frequently combative. As I described in my June 16 column, Snow often demands that reporters define the terms that he himself has just used.

"Sometimes, he picks fights over obvious facts. Case in point, at Wednesday's press briefing, he was asked about testimony from Bush's new spy chief that Osama bin Laden is alive in Pakistan and reestablishing training camps. Snow responded by suggesting that bin Laden might not really be the leader of al Qaeda."
If the snowshoe fits

As far as I am concerned, Tony Snow is the perfect man for the job. He seems to have the intellectual capacity of George Bush and the bedside manner of Dick Cheney.

In other words, Bushco has, as its mouthpiece, the man they truly deserve.

Now let's see if the White House Press Corps grows a set and starts poking through the press secretary's marshmallow veneer and come up with a little substance.

I won't hold my breath.

Dan Froomkin's entire column can be accessed here.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Bush To Wounded Troops: Drop Dead & Shut Up

Dissing our wounded vets

2 stories in the Army Times over the past week, by Kelly Kennedy, make quite clear how the Bush administration really feels about the troops who have sacrificed their health and, in many cases their limbs, for the George W. Bush war games.

On February 20th the Army Times reported that wounded vets were getting shafted on health care.

Kennedy detailed the experience of seriously wounded 20-year old Pvt. Robert Van Antwerp, who lost 2 friends in an explosion that "fractured his skull, ruptered his spleen and ripped out his colon."

According to the report:
"Yet when it was time for the Army to take care of him, one of its wounded warriors, Van Antwerp gave up before he even began. Rather than fight for a higher disability rating, he quietly signed for 20 percent — and no medical benefits — saying he knew he couldn’t do better. He inherited his father’s stubbornness, he said, and refused to ask anyone to pull strings based on his dad’s rank. Then his first medical board counselor, the person who would help him make his way through the medical evaluation board system, left. The second, he said, 'wasn’t on the ball.'

"'The Army is trying to give you the lowest amount of money possible,' he said. 'A lot of people are appealing, but I’ll be going to [the Department of Veterans Affairs]. I want to go home.'

"Van Antwerp is one of thousands of wounded troops rushed from the war zone for health care and then stranded in administrative limbo. They are at the mercy of a medical evaluation system that’s agonizingly slow, grossly understaffed and saddled with a growing backlog of cases. The wounded soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are stuck in holding companies awaiting hearings and decisions on whether they will continue their military service or be discharged, and if so, at what level of benefits — if any."
That article painted a disturbing picture about how our wounded Iraqi and Afghani war veterans were essentially left to fend for themselves upon their return.

Understaffed and out of touch

Part of the problem is attributed to understaffing, but part of it is also attributed to a system that is certainly not set up to look after the best interests of the men and women who have sacrificed their bodies and psyches in service to our country.

Also telling is the total lack of empathy and reality from officials.

For example, that article referred to
"Col. Ronald Hamilton, commander of the medical center brigade at Walter Reed", who "beamed when asked about the work done through the medical evaluation board.'

"'I think it’s being handled extremely well,' he said. 'There are some outliers, where it takes longer than we would expect it to, but we’re not saying, ‘You’re at 365 days — we need to process you out.’ We’re trying to do what’s best for each soldier.'"
Sounds like a man after Bush and Cheney's own heart.

The attempt to punish the wounded and wronged

One would think such an expose would shame Bushco and his war machine to switch into high gear to make things right.

Well, they have switched into high gear all punishing soldiers and going into cover up mode.

In today's article in the Army Times, in a report titled "Walter Reed patients told to keep quiet," Kennedy writes:
"Soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center’s Medical Hold Unit say they have been told they will wake up at 6 a.m. every morning and have their rooms ready for inspection at 7 a.m., and that they must not speak to the media.

"'Some soldiers believe this is a form of punishment for the trouble soldiers caused by talking to the media,' one Medical Hold Unit soldier said, speaking on the condition of anonymity."
Additionally, patients are being moved to a building that will have much harder access by the media and media coverage has been shut down, under the excuse that it cannot occur while an ongoing investigation is taking place. According to the most recent report, planned projects by both CNN and the Discovery Channel have been suspended.

No comment?

Most telling, "as of Tuesday afternoon, Army public affairs did not respond to a request sent Sunday evening to verify the personnel changes."

Everybody should be petitioning their local representatives in Washington to have the administration answer this outrage.

Could it be any clearer how much George Bush and his chickenhawk warriors hate the troops?

The 2 Army Times reports can be accessed both here and here.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Patriot Games

The GOP, led by Smearer-in-Chief Dick Cheney, has once again played the 'treason card.' Only this time they're getting called out on it.

In an interview with ABC News earlier today, Mr. Cheney made the following unfortunate comment:
"I think (Rep. John Murtha's) dead wrong. I think if we were to do what Speaker Pelosi and Congressman Murtha are suggesting, all we'll do is validate the al Qaeda strategy.

"The al Qaeda strategy is to break the will of the American people. In fact, knowing they can't win in a stand-up fight, try to convince us to throw in the towel and come home and then they win because we quit."
In other words, if one does not support the misguided war-mongering policy of the Bush Administration, one is aiding and abetting the enemy. His comments cannot be taken any other way.

Cheney just following Bush's lead

One can hardly blame Mr. Cheney for feeling he was safe to make such brazen remarks, because he knows the GOP has gotten away with it every single time. In fact, Cheney's comments are in lockstep with the following remark that that other great war hero, George W. Bush, told an audience at Georgia Southern University, shortly before Election Day:
"However they put it, the Democrat approach in Iraq comes down to this: The terrorists win and America loses."
The 'scare America' strategy failed miserably for the neo-cons in the last election, but they continue the mantra today.

Fighting back

What I find refreshing is the Democratic response and the fact that the media is choosing to cover it. Amazing what majority status will do in effecting news coverage.

Nancy Pelosi, responding to Cheney's comments, said
"You cannot say as the president of the United States, 'I welcome disagreement in a time of war,' and then have the vice president of the United States go out of the country and mischaracterize a position of the speaker of the House and in a manner that says that person in that position of authority is acting against the national security of our country."
I first feared that Pelosi was giving Bush too much credit. Surely she remembered his comments as well.

However, what is really going on here is that the Dems are finally shining a light on the dangerous un-American comments by the neo-cons and calling attention to how truly unpatriotic those comments are. Additionally, those comments are finally resonating.

Considering that the vast majority of Americans disapprove of the Bush war games, they will be even less pleased when they are told opposition to the Bush escalation makes them cheerleaders for al Qaeda.

When pulling out is a good thing

To add to the unreality of Dick "the insurgency is in its last throes" Cheney, are his comments regarding Great Britain.

This is what Cheney told ABC newsman Jonathan Karl, regarding British plans to reduce troops by 1600 over the next few months, to a level which could be as low as 5,000 troops come summer:
"Well, I look at it and see it is actually an affirmation that there are parts of Iraq where things are going pretty well.

"In fact, I talked to a friend just the other day who had driven to Baghdad down to Basra, seven hours, found the situation dramatically improved from a year or so ago, sort of validated the British view they had made progress in southern Iraq and that they can therefore reduce their force levels."
What I am still waiting for journalists to challenge Cheney on is the question of why those troops would not be redeployed to other parts of Iraq, where increased troops are allegedly so badly needed.

The fact that British troops will soon be down to an even more miniscule presence should really cause us to examine the utter lunacy of the Bush 'surge.'

Maybe we should retire the phrase 'coalition of the willing.'

How about the 'dissolution that is chilling?'

Trying to prevent the next invasion

The neo-cons will continue to run our country straight into the ground, unless we take a stand at every turn and put up some roadblocks.

In that respect, what Speaker Pelosi did was dead-on.

We have to make sure, in this case, that the media will continue to report on challenges to such horrendous comments by the Bush/Cheney cabal.

Maybe they will even have the spine to make some challenges of their own.

Before Bush attacks Iran.