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.