Sunday, September 30, 2007

U.S. coordinates with Gulf nations on possible air strikes.

ThinkProgress.org: “The American air force is working with military leaders from the Gulf to train and prepare Arab air forces for a possible war with Iran, The Sunday Telegraph can reveal.”

UPDATE: “John Bolton, the former US ambassador to the United Nations, told Tory delegates today that efforts by the UK and the EU to negotiate with Iran had failed and that he saw no alternative to a pre-emptive strike on suspected nuclear facilities in the country.”

Pentagon Issues Blackwater New $92 Million Contract

ThinkProgress.org: Earlier this month, Blackwater USA was involved in the fatal shooting of 11 Iraqi civilians. While the Iraqi government swiftly condemned the contractor, the Bush administration has continued to back Blackwater’s story that it was “defensive fire.”

Last Thursday, Gen. Peter Pace told reporters, “Blackwater has been a contractor in the past with the department and could certainly be in the future.” The next day, that future was already here. The Pentagon had issued a new list of contracts, including one worth $92 million to Presidential Airways, the “aviation unit of parent company Blackwater.”

Government officials have repeatedly ignored Blackwater’s transgressions. Senior Iraqi officials “repeatedly complained to U.S. officials” about Blackwater’s “alleged involvement in the deaths of numerous Iraqis, but the Americans took little action to regulate the private security firm.”

Next week. Rep. David Price (D-NC) plans to introduce legislationto extend the reach of U.S. civil courts to include security contractors in Iraq.”

The Daily Show: Childrens Do Learn

President Bush makes a statement that Jon couldn’t make funnier even if he took it out of context.

Romney's Hypocrisy

LSB: Mitt, did you think no one was looking through your financial statements? Has he divested himself of these assets, or what will we find next year when his 2007 financial statements are released?

Iranian Sock Puppets Feed Into Right-Wing War Mongering

Nicole Belle, Crooks and Liars: You would think the old axiom “once bitten, twice shy” would somehow apply to these idiots in the right wing echo chamber that are beating the drums for war with Iran. After all, they believed Ahmed Chalabi over their own common sense. And by all accounts, the two fronts they are already cheerleading are going so poorly, by what bizarre metric could they possibly consider a third front against Iran a good idea?

But no, all those right wing hacks are trying to find ANY reason to demonize Iran to goad us into another war. And as Sadly, No! documented earlier this week, that includes making fraudulent claims from movie stills. As Gavin points out, even everyone’s favorite cheerleader Michelle Malkin only wants the facts that fit their pre-conceived notions. But don’t try to point out the truth or facts to them…then they’ll just break out the sock puppets to insult you:
Here’s a cautionary tale about Middle-Eastern dissidents who seek to advance their causes - even after the lesson of Iraq - by making common cause with American right-wing extremists and their phony ‘human rights’ campaigns. (Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi is the daughter of Iranian political prisoner Siamak Pourzand, and lately an organizer (with Michael Ledeen) of the extraordinarily fishy Secular Islam Summit.)

GOP Is Ready to Roll Out the Klieg Lights for Craig

Chris Cillizza And Shailagh Murray, WashingtonPost.com: Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho is a tough guy to run out of town.

Not that his Republican colleagues aren't trying. Worried that the disgraced lawmaker intends to remain in the Senate indefinitely, they are threatening to notch up the public humiliation by seeking an open ethics hearing on the restroom scandal that enveloped Craig last month.

The Senate hearing would examine the original charges in Craig's case, including the allegation of "interference with privacy," for peeping into the bathroom stall occupied by an undercover police officer. One senior Republican aide imagined "witnesses, documents, all in front of the klieg lights." The committee also could look for "a pattern of conduct" - which means combing court records in other locales to discover whether Craig had prior arrests that haven't come to light.
The call for a public hearing is not unprecedented. In 1995, the Senate narrowly rejected holding an open forum to examine sexual misconduct allegations against Bob Packwood (R-Ore.). The Democrat who called for the open Packwood hearing? Barbara Boxer (Calif.), the current chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee.
While his lawyer was in Minnesota last week trying to persuade a judge to throw out the senator's guilty plea, Craig was a regular presence on the Senate floor, backslapping colleagues during votes and, at one point, conducting a private conversation with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has urged Craig in no uncertain terms to leave the Senate. Craig's wife, Suzanne, also made an appearance at a Senate spouses' lunch.
"I do not think it is healthy for the U.S. Senate to be put through a public type of hearing on this type of an ethics complaint, but that is ultimately going to be his decision, because we are very limited on what we can do," said Sen. John Ensign (Nev.), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Boehner: Using Children For Political Messaging Is ‘Beyond The Pale,’ Unless I Do It

ThinkProgess.org: This week’s Democratic Radio Address will be delivered by a 12-year-old boy named Graeme Frost. Graeme was in a severe car accident three years ago, and received care under the SCHIP program.

In his address, Graeme will tell the story of how he “was in a coma for a week and couldn’t eat or stand up or even talk at first.” But, using coverage provided under SCHIP, Graeme received treatment that allowed him to return to school and begin to lead a normal life again.

A spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) sharply criticized Graeme’s appearance:
To use an innocent young child as a human shield and misrepresent the position of the president of the United States is, frankly, beyond the pale.

If there’s one thing Boehner just won’t tolerate, it’s politicians employing children for political purposes…

The SCHIP bill sent to Bush for authorization would provide essential medical care for four million children like Graeme Frost. Yet John Boehner seems more interested in playing partisan games than in supporting expansion of a program that is “widely regarded as one of the country’s greatest social policy successes.”

Reader Comments:

  • Candyce: Yes, that makes sense. A program for children should not be associated with children who benefit from it. Or something. ... Guess it was ok for Bush to pepper the stage with “snowflake babies” when he vetoed the stem cell research bill. ... Well, now that I’ve reread the quote from Boehner’s people, I’m pissed. Using the term “human shield,” which has a specific meaning related to terrorism, war, something despots do with their civilian populations to deter attack. I guess Boehner is comparing Reid to Saddam now.
  • Lora: I guess the always tanned – not to mention, hypocritical – Boehner knows best about being “beyond the pale.”
  • Gregor: This, of course, is no surprise. Republicans have got us all used to amazing “moral values” such as: it is wrong to cheat on your wife, unless you are a Republican; it is wrong to be gay, unless you are a Republican; it is wrong to smear a political opponent, unless you are a Republican; [and] it is wrong to be fiscally irresponsible, unless you are a Republican. No contradiction or show of hypocrisy coming out of the Republican camp surprises me anymore.
  • Starve-A-Bush_Feed-A-Beaver: So once again a Republican fails to address the substance of the message he’s trying to refute and chooses instead to address the image of the messenger. I guess he would prefer an adult describing the facts Graeme Frost describes, even though those facts happened to Graeme Frost and Boner cannot dispute them. Again a Republican grasps at any straw but fails to address reality.

The most well-connected 'outsiders' in the country

Steve Benen, TalkingPointsMemo.com: The headline on the AP report on Freedom's Watch reads, "Outsiders aim to frame political debate." If there's a less accurate description of the powerful conservative activists behind this new group, I can't think of it.

Freedom's Watch and MoveOn.org could be the left and right bookends not only on the war, but on a number of issues that will decide the 2008 elections and shape congressional debate beyond. Freedom's Watch organizers said they are considering whether to create a political subgroup, like MoveOn has, that could directly play a role in elections.
"Bookends"? Eli Pariser, the executive director of MoveOn.org Political Action, noted, "The main difference is that MoveOn is a group of 3.3 million. Freedom's Watch is a few mega millionaires."
What's more, they're incredibly well-connected mega millionaires. The AP's headline notwithstanding, Freedom's Watch includes some key establishment heavy-hitters. Bradley A. Blakeman, president and chief executive officer of Freedom's Watch, was a member the White House senior staff in Bush's first term. Mary Matalin, Dick Cheney's counselor until 2003, is helping set the group's agenda. Freedom's Watch's chief spokesperson is Ari Fleischer, Bush's first White House press secretary. The board and principal financiers include Bush administration ambassadors and party insiders.
Freedom's Watch can call this a "grassroots" effort, and the AP can call the group "outsiders," but that doesn't make it so. As Digby put it, "Only in the Village could someone characterize that group as being 'outsiders.' You just have to laugh."
Freedom Watch’s next target: Iran. The New York Times reports that next month, the White House-front group Freedom’s Watch “will sponsor a private forum of 20 experts on radical Islam that is expected to make the case that Iran poses a direct threat to the security of the United States”:

Although the group declined to identify the experts, several were invited from the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington research group with close ties to the White House. Some institute scholars have advocated a more confrontational policy to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, including keeping military action as an option. […]

“If Hitler’s warnings were heeded when he wrote ‘Mein Kampf,’ he could have been stopped,” said Bradley Blakeman, 49, the president of Freedom’s Watch and a former deputy assistant to Mr. Bush. “Ahmadinejad is giving all the same kind of warning signs to us, and the region — he wants the destruction of the United States and the destruction of Israel.”

The Mistreatment of Iraq Contracting Whistleblowers

Friday, September 21, 2007: Recent reports from auditors suggest that questioned and unsupported costs associated with Iraq reconstruction and military support contracts exceed $10 billion (or more than one in six dollars audited). Since the start of the war in Iraq, the Democratic Policy Committee has held a series of hearings to examine allegations of waste, fraud and abuse in Iraq contracting. The hearings featured whistleblowers who spoke out about improper bidding practices and contractors who were paid for work that was never done or for work that was performed in an incompetent manner.

Throughout these hearings, a common theme developed: evidence of waste, fraud and abuse uncovered by whistleblowers was being ignored by contractors and the government and, in many cases, the whistleblowers were being mistreated. This hearing will feature witnesses who have been fired, demoted, threatened, intimidated and even detained for speaking the truth about Iraq contracting practices. We will also hear from expert witnesses who will recommend policy reforms to address whistleblower mistreatment and strengthen protections in current law.

Bunnatine Greenhouse: Ms. Greenhouse, the former highest-ranking civilian contracting official at the Army Corps of Engineers, was removed from her position because she “steadfastly resisted and attempted to alter what can be described as casual and clubby contracting practices by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Commanders.”

Barry Godfrey: Mr. Godfrey is a former KBR employee who alleges he was fired after he complained to his superiors about fraudulent overcharges. Mr. Godfrey will testify about the retaliation against him and the Bush Administration’s failure to assist whistleblowers who have alleged waste, fraud, and abuse in Iraq contracting.

Donald Vance: Mr. Vance, a Navy veteran and former employee of Shield Group Security Company, will testify that after reporting that his employer was engaged in illegal gun sales in Iraq, he was detained by the military and subjected to harsh interrogation over a three-month period. Mr. Vance will testify about the treatment he received from Shield Group after he spoke out about evidence of criminal activity.

Robert Isakson: Mr. Isakson, who was a co-plaintiff in a qui tam lawsuit against Custer Battles, won the first civil verdict for Iraq reconstruction fraud. The verdict was later overturned by the trial court judge, who ruled that because the Coalition Provisional Authority was not part of the U.S. government, the plaintiffs were not entitled to relief under the qui tam statute.

Stephen Kohn: Mr. Kohn, who is the Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center, is an expert on whistleblower protection law and the author of the fi rst legal treatise on whistleblowing. He currently represents Bunnatine Greenhouse and has represented whistleblowers in the World Trade Center and Oklahoma City bombing cases. [LSB: His testimony is liked to his name.]

Alan Grayson: Mr. Grayson represents whistleblowers, including Robert Isakson, in qui tam lawsuits. He has stated that “the Bush Administration has not litigated a single case against a contractor alleged to have defrauded the U.S. Government in Iraq.” Mr. Grayson will testify about the Administration’s continued failure to prevent and respond to retaliation against Iraq contracting whistleblowers.

Leading Indicators Point Down for GOP

David Espo, HuffingtonPost.com:

Fundraising for Republican campaign organizations lags. That is strikingly so in the House, where the party committee spent more than it raised in each of the past two months, reported only $1.6 million in the bank at the end of August and a debt of nearly $4 million.

Democrats reported $22.1 million in the bank and a debt of slightly more than $3 million.

Candidate recruitment has been uneven, particularly in the Senate, where Republicans must defend 22 of the 34 seats on the ballot next year. Democrats boast top-tier challengers for GOP-held seats in Colorado, Virginia, New Hampshire, Maine, Minnesota and Oregon.

Republicans have yet to put forward a prominent challenger for any Democratic-held seat, although an announcement is expected soon in Louisiana.

Additionally, nine Republicans in the House and three in the Senate have announced plans to retire. Some of those leaving are in midcareer, when a departure often signals pessimism about the prospects for regaining the majority. Democratic retirements total two to date - both are House members who are running for the Senate.

"The Democrats will continue to be the majority party in the House and Senate and Hillary Clinton will make history by being the first woman president" in 2008, predicts Rep. Ray LaHood, one of three Illinois Republicans to announce his retirement so far.

What makes LaHood's prediction stand out is his willingness to say it publicly.
Numerous other Republican lawmakers, aides and strategists said Democrats appear headed for two more years in power in Congress, but they declined to say so on the record.

LSB: I only post this as a warning. Dems thought they had the White House in 2004 and all the polls indicated that was true. But on election night, whether through election fraud in FL and OH or inaccurate polling, Bush resumed his perch atop the Iraq fiasco. Time and time again Dems have snatched defeat from the mouth of victory, so I take nothing for granted and accept none of these dire predictions about Republican defeats - especially not from a Republican spinner like Ray LaHood, and not for an election that is more than a year away and for which we have not yet even determined the candidates.

Countdown: Jim Webb on Lieberman/Kyl, Rush Limbaugh and the Spanish Downing Street Revelations

Nicole Belle, Crooks and Liars: It’s dizzying to try to keep up with all the plates that the Right Wing are spinning. On Thursday’s Countdown, Keith Olbermann and Sen. Jim Webb try to put it all in perspective. (Click the pic for the vid.)

Webb: (On the Spanish “Downing Street” memos) There’s no real surprise there. If you look back at where the situation was in ‘02, I and General Tony Zinni and other people were saying that Iraq probably would have been sixth highest in terms of the threats to the United States. In fact, I wrote a piece in the Washington Post five years ago this month, basically saying “Do you really want to be in Iraq for the next 30 years?” and that these people have no exit strategy because they don’t intend to leave.
LSB: Webb seems to be the Senator many of us wish we had (I've got that jackass Cornyn and lead-by-the-nose Kay Bailey), and I believe if we had more Senators with the balls he's shown in Congress there would be less terrorism coming from the White House.

Bill Moyers’ Journal Looks At Fraud in Iraq

Nicole Belle, Crooks and Liars: On this week’s Journal, Bill Moyers takes a look at waste and contractor fraud going on in Iraq. [LSB: Click the pic for vid clip.] Just last week, the House Armed Services Committee found that $6 billion worth of military contracts are under criminal review, and another $88 billion (to put that into perspective, that’s two and a half times the cost of the expansion of the SCHIP bill that (Bush is threatening to veto) in contracts are currently being audited for suspicion of fraud. When the AP took a look at the auditing process required by law that is supposed to catch these war profiteers, it found it had not “met even basic accounting requirements, leaving them vulnerable to waste, fraud and abuse.”

BILL MOYERS: As Inspector General of the State Department, Howard Krongard - known as “Cookie” - was supposed to be the watchdog guarding against corruption there. But he’s a political appointee with strong partisan loyalties, and now seven people on his staff have accused him not only of failing to do his job but of actively blocking their efforts to do theirs. The reason? Quote: “To protect the State Department and the White House from political embarrassment.”
Fortunately, the Democratic Congress is responding accordingly. Rep Henry Waxman (D-CA) is currently investigating allegations that Krongard has been blocking inquiries about corrupt contractors by threatening to fire members of his staff for cooperating with Waxman’s investigation, and Senators Jim Webb (D-VA) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO)’s bill unanimously passed in the Senate on Thursday to create an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Bill Moyers continues to be the breath of fresh air among the stench left from so many in our corporate media these days that are content to parrot whatever the White House or some astro-turf corporate front wants them to.
Also this week, Moyers looks at humanitarian refugee crisis caused by Iraq. Since the invasion in 2003, more than 4.2 million Iraqis have been forced to flee their homes. As always, you can watch it and the rest of this week’s show at his website.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

John Dean: From Nixon to Bush to Giuliani--"Much, Much Worse"

Jon Wiener, HuffingtonPost.com:

John Dean knows something about White House abuse of power. He wrote a bestseller in 2004 on the Bush White House called Worse Than Watergate. In a recent interview I asked him what he thinks of that title now. Now, he replied, a book comparing Bush and Nixon would have to be called Much, Much Worse. "Look at the so-called Watergate abuses of power," he said. "Nobody died.

Nobody was tortured. Millions of Americans were not subject to electronic surveillance of their communications. We're playing now in a whole different league." And how does Bush compare with the Republicans seeking to succeed him? "If a Rudy Giuliani were to be elected," Dean said, "he would go even farther than Cheney and Bush in their worst moments." ...

"I do feel strongly that the Republicans have so abused the law and embedded so many people within the system, within the executive branch, that's it's going to take a couple of terms of Democratic presidents before you have people there who are representing the American people."

The Real Phony Is Rush Limbaugh

Logan Murphy, Crooks and Liars: Another powerful ad from Vote Vets, and they really let Limbaugh have it. Rush can’t help himself as he continues his attacks on our troops and veterans, accusing Ohio Democrat and Iraq veteran Paul Hackett of joining the military to pad his resume. Think Progress has more on a letter that’s circulating around Capitol Hill urging members to condemn Rush and have also issued a challenge to lawmakers to give him the same treatment they did Move On.

We can’t run this ad without reminding Rush about Jon Soltz’s challenge. Via The Huffington Post:

My challenge to you, then, is to have me on the show and say all of this again, right to the face of someone who served in Iraq. I’ll come on any day, any time. Not only will I once again explain why your comments were so wrong, but I will completely school you on why your refusal to seek a way out of Iraq is only aiding al Qaeda and crippling American security.

Ball’s in your court. Read more…

The more pressure put on Limbaugh the better. I would pay to watch Soltz (and Congress) take him down, but we all know el Rushbo would never have the guts and will continue to dodge him. Contact your representatives in the House and Senate and let them know you want them to condemn Rush’s disgusting and un-American statements about our troops and veterans.

UPDATE: Do Rush’s Senate Friends Still Think ‘There’s Nothing Inflammatory About Anything’ He Says? Last week, 72 senators voted to condemn an ad by MoveOn.org with a resolution repudiating “any effort to attack the honor and integrity” of “all members of the United States Armed Forces.”

On the Senate floor and in the press, Sen. John Cornyn, who introduced the bill, was vitriolic in his rhetoric towards the ad, calling it a “a despicable political attack” that “crossed a historic line of decency.” He was joined in raucous condemnation by his Senate colleagues:

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY): “This amendment gives our colleagues a chance to distance themselves from these despicable tactics, distance themselves from the
notion that some group has them on a leash.”

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT): “It is MoveOn that is the disgrace. And I think it is important that the entire Congress publicly repudiate these absurd charges.”

During the September 26 edition of his radio show, right-wing standard bearer Rush Limbaugh claimed that service members who support U.S. withdrawal from Iraq are actually “phony soldiers.” On the House floor last night, Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) asked if those “who showed so much outrage towards MoveOn.org…will hold Rush Limbaugh to the same standard?”
There is a particular onus for Cornyn, McConnell and Hatch to put themselves on the record regarding Limbaugh, considering the fond relationship they’ve had with him in the past:

- “It dawned on me that Daschle’s probably never listened to Rush Limbaugh. I mean, there’s nothing particularly inflammatory about anything Rush Limbaugh says,” said McConnell in 2002. [Fox News Sunday 11/24/02]

- In 2002, Limbaugh headlined a fundraiser for Cornyn “where he predictably lambasted Democrats and liberals and helped raise almost $200,000″ for the soon-to-be Senator. “We need a Republican senate,” Limbaugh said at the event. [San Antonio Express-News 9/22/02]

- “I thank my father in heaven every day for people like you, Rush Limbaugh and others,” Hatch told Hannity in 2002 [Newhouse News Service 11/21/02]

Several Democratic members of Congress have already denounced Limbaugh’s comments and the White House is distancing itself from him. But Rush is refusing to apologize.

Will Cornyn, McConnell and Hatch step up and hold their friend Rush to the same standard they laid out in their “Sense of the Senate” resolution?

Mario Cuomo: Congress Abdicating Their Constitutional Duties

Nicole Belle, Crooks and Liars: Mario Cuomo cuts through all the political spin and gives the unvarnished truth. His condemnation for Congress for their naivety and willingness to give up their responsibilities to an untrustworthy administration makes me wish again for Cuomo on the national scene. (Click the pic for the vid.)

Let’s not do what we did before and wind up apologizing for our resolutions and saying we’re sorry. Now remember, the Founding Fathers gave the powers to declare war to the Congress. That power cannot be delegated to the President. You can’t adopt a resolution and say well, the Founding Fathers wanted us to do it, but it’s too heavy a lift for us, so we empower you, Mr. President, if you feel like doing it, to do it. ...

And my goodness, the President you’re talking about is the president who started a war with a mistaken context-assuming he was telling the truth, and I will-he was wrong about the reason for it, he was wrong about complicity, he was wrong about how many troops we needed, he was wrong about how we would be greeted when we got there, he was wrong about the civil war, wrong about how much it would cost, wrong about how long it would last and now you’re saying maybe he can start another war. It’s a mistake; this an opportunity for Democrats to show real leadership. And the presidential candidates should lead the way. And if they don’t, then the question is going to be when it comes to improvident war-making, why are you any better than Bush?

Friday, September 28, 2007

Hardball: To withdraw immediately or not to withdraw immediately, that is the question

Nicole Belle, Crooks and Liars: Matthews brings on Jim Moran (D-VA) and Trent Franks (R-AZ) to discuss the possibility of pulling the troops out of Iraq. Guess which one came equipped with knowledge of the situation on the ground and the geo-political forces at work and which one came equipped with talking points? Even Matthews got fed up at one point when it became obvious that the only thing Trent “Nuclear IEDs HERE!” Franks knew was the word “freedom” and had no concept of Sunni vs. Shia.

The question that he quoted at the beginning is from Drew Westen at The New Republic:

The question Democrats have never asked Republicans since the war began is the only one that really matters: Would you send your own child to die in Iraq? And if so, have you done everything you can to convince your children that, if this is truly the war you say it is–for our freedom, for our very way of life, to keep the terrorists “over there” so that we don’t fight them “over here”–they should drop their lucrative investment banking careers and be all they can be in Baghdad?
As Jim Moran said, spot on.

Saddam Wanted Out, Bush Lied About It

Nicole Belle, Crooks and Liars: How much money does Bush think a US soldier’s life is worth? How much money does Bush think the lives of our allies’ soldiers or innocent Iraqis are worth?

As we’re finding out, not very much. On March 17, 2003 President Bush issued the warning: “Saddam Hussein and his sons must leave Iraq within 48 hours. Their refusal to do so will result in military conflict commenced at a time of our choosing ,” yet now thanks to a transcript leaked to the Spanish newspaper El Pais, we learn that more than three weeks prior to that Bush had told former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar that “The Egyptians are speaking to Saddam Hussein. It seems he’s indicated he would be prepared to go into exile if he’s allowed to take $1 billion …” When confronted about the leaked transcript yesterday, Whitehouse spokeswoman Dana Perino did not dispute its accuracy. (Click the pic for the vid.)

Just last week we learned from former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan that the real reason behind the war in Iraq was oil , and now we are finding out that the entire war could have been averted for letting him get away with $1 billion. That’s just than one tenth of 1% of what this insane invasion and occupation of Iraq, that continues claim the lives of our country’s bravest men and women, has now been forcast to cost. Think about that just for a second. Every single death, Iraqi and American coalition alike, could have been saved and Bush could have had Saddam’s oil, but apparently he didn’t even seriously consider it. Topping that, he then lied in public to the entire world about it just so he could have his war regardless. How’s that for compassionate conservatism?

White House (Kinda) Faults Rush Limbaugh Over "Phony Soldiers" Comment

Greg Sargent, TalkingPoints Memo: As we reported earlier today over at The Horse's Mouth, Democrats and others have been pressuring the White House press corps to ask White House flack Dana Perino if President Bush - who'd earlier condemned MoveOn - would repudiate Rush Limbaugh's assertion that troops who want to withdraw from Iraq are "phony soldiers."

At the press briefing a few moments ago, a reporter did ask Perino the question. In response, she faulted Rush for the remark. She claimed that while she hadn't personally heard the remarks (she said), the President doesn't agree with the underlying sentiment and wouldn't have used those words. Take a look:



Perino said: "The President believes that if you are serving in the military that you have the rights that every American has which is you're free to express yourself in any way that you want to. And there are some that oppose the war, and that's okay."

Pressed specifically about Rush's "phony soldiers" phrase, she added: "It's not what the President would have used, no."

Hardly the scathing condemnation that MoveOn earned at the hands of the President of course. But this is still noteworthy, particularly since Bush and top Republicans are guests on his show. Despite Perino's contention that she hadn't heard the comment, the practiced answer that followed suggests that the White House made an internal decision to criticize the comment.

LSB: The comment is - better late than never; not much, but better than nothing; delivered by the newest flunkie rather that the head spinmeister; etc. Let’s face it, Darth Cheney will be on Rush's show next week blaming the Dems for making more of this than necessary and stroking Rush like he is Darth's young, gay lover. Should the Dems demand a resolution similar to the one MoveOn ad received? What would be the point? Is there anyone with the balls on the left to draft that kind of resolution? I wonder. If someone actually did draft a resolution, would there be enough votes to pass it? I wonder. Would it ultimately solve anything? No. That drug-induced, limp-dicked blow hard will continue to make his asinine comments and the time wasted on this resolution could be better spent debating the war. The public has learned not to expect anything from this White House – we’re just waiting for Shrub to join Turdblossom on the front porch somewhere. This is the GOP legacy to this generation, so let them wallow in it. Sure, comeuppance would be great, but loyal FAUX News viewers won’t be swayed and they are they only ones with their minds still left buried in the sand on this story. Liberals need to keep our eye on the bigger picture and hold this Administration accountable for the atrocities they have created.

Bill Clinton On MoveOn

And in Gaydom...

From TowleRoad.com:

Clergy members in L.A.'s San Fernando Valley have come together to urge the Supreme Court to overturn the state's ban on same-sex marriage: "Ahead of what is widely expected to be the next major state Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, reverends, pastors and rabbis met at St. Matthew's Evangelical Lutheran Church in North Hollywood to announce they would file 30 amicus briefs, formal documents intended to persuade courts on an issue. The religious leaders, who were joined by 90 civil-rights organizations across the state that also filed briefs, are hoping to influence the court's decision on an upcoming review of a lawsuit seeking to overturn the ban on gay marriage."

Texas student suspended for wearing John Edwards T-shirt to school.

Mitt Romney has seized on a question to candidates at last night's Democratic debate, which asked whether they would approve of their second-grader being read a book (I believe they were referring to the book King & King but the moderator referred to one in which a "prince... marries another prince") which preaches tolerance about same-sex marriage. Today, Romney released a statement condemning the candidates' for supporting committed relationships and tolerance.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Did US spies let bin Laden slip through their grasp... again?

David Edwards and Nick Juliano, Raw Story: A US spy plane picked up some "tantalizing" clues last month indicating where terror leader Osama bin Laden or his deputy might be hiding, but intelligence officials were unable to move quickly enough to capture or kill the al Qaeda mastermind, NBC News reported Thursday.

"The sighting came in the rugged mountain passes of Tora Bora," NBC correspondent Jim Miklaszewski reported on the Today Show.

An unmanned spy plane spotted a large security contingent similar in size to one that would guard bin Laden or his No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri, although intelligence officials were unable to positively identify either of the top terrorists.

The intelligence gathered launched the largest military operation in Afghanistan in five years, Miklaszewski reported. Some intelligence and military officials "believed there was a high probability" bin Laden or Zawahiri were there, despite the lack of a positive ID.

US forces spent three days and nights pounding the al Qaeda hideout, killing 19 al Qaeda and Taliban officials, but missing bin Laden. Some officials told NBC that the mission was not swift enough to capture or kill America's No. 1 enemy in the war on terror.

"They were just too slow, too cumbersome, too risk averse," Mike Sheehan, an NBC terrorism analyst said. "And again we've missed him."

The following video is from NBC's Today Show, broadcast on September 27.

video

GOP Leaders To Black Voters: We Don't Give A Damn

Los Angeles Times: A PBS video previewing the network's Republican presidential candidates forum, set to air tonight from a historically black university, asks, "Can the party of Abraham Lincoln win the hearts and minds of all Americans?"

But none of the GOP's top White House contenders will show up to answer the question, each citing a scheduling conflict.

Instead, viewers will see four empty lecterns on the stage as Tavis Smiley, an African American talk show host, poses questions to five lesser-known candidates: Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine), Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.).
Coming days after the Spanish-language network Univision was forced to postpone its Republican forum because it was rejected by all but one candidate -- Sen. John McCain of Arizona -- the PBS forum has touched off a debate within the GOP over whether its 2008 candidates are trampling on past efforts to draw more minority voters. (More.)

Limbaugh: Troops Supporting US Withdrawal “Phony Soldiers”

Media Matters (click the pic for the audio):

During the September 26 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh called service members who advocate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq “phony soldiers.” He made the comment while discussing with a caller a conversation he had with a previous caller, “Mike from Chicago,” who said he “used to be military,” and “believe[s] that we should pull out of Iraq.” Limbaugh told the second caller, whom he identified as “Mike, this one from Olympia, Washington,” that “[t]here’s a lot” that people who favor U.S. withdrawal “don’t understand” and that when asked why the United States should pull out, their only answer is, ” ‘Well, we just gotta bring the troops home.’ … ‘Save the — keeps the troops safe’ or whatever,” adding, “[I]t’s not possible, intellectually, to follow these people.” “Mike” from Olympia replied, “No, it’s not, and what’s really funny is, they never talk to real soldiers. They like to pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and talk to the media.” Limbaugh interjected, “The phony soldiers.” The caller, who had earlier said, “I am a serving American military, in the Army,” agreed, replying, “The phony soldiers.”
Nicole Belle, Crooks and Liars: Rush Limbaugh, dissing our brave soldiers sacrificing in combat??? I am positive that the Republican party in Congress are drafting up an amendment to condemn that heartless Limbaugh, right?

Actually, that’s a good idea: Here is the Roll Call from the House MoveOn condemnation and the Senate MoveOn condemnation. Clearly, Limbaugh is violating the “sense of the Senate” by criticizing active duty troops. McCain thought that MoveOn should “be thrown out of the country.” Lieberman called it “an outrageous and despicable act of slander that every member of the Congress — Democrat and Republican — has a solemn responsibility to condemn.”

So let’s ask them. Ask Lieberman and McCain if they will condemn Rush Limbaugh as they have MoveOn. Let’s ask ALL the congress critters who thought it important to condemn MoveOn if they will do the same for Rush.

Jon Soltz asks, “So, I’m a phony soldier, Rush?” as does Iraq veteran John Bruhn.

Countdown:Exploiting 9/11, MoveOn Ad

Nicole Belle, Crooks and Liars: On yesterday’s Countdown, Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow discuss the seemingly rampant invocation of 9/11 in Republican political circles without actually dealing with 9/11 issues and the disappointing lack of cohesion on the part of the majority party to get the people’s work actually done. (Click the pic for the vid.)

My God! Dick Cheney Was Right!

Nicole Belle, Crooks and Liars: Of course, it was back in 1992. Hasn’t happened since. Pity.


Just goes to show you: Trust your initial instinct. All hell breaks loose when you don’t.

In all seriousness, this makes the last seven years that much more of an abomination for the U.S. He KNEW this quagmire would happen. He KNEW it was untenable 15 years ago. There’s a special place in hell for the neo-cons that pushed this policy over logic, military strategy and basic humanity.

Mission unaccomplished

Tim Grieve, The War Room: When the national media focused earlier this year on problems with the medical care provided to injured U.S. soldiers, George W. Bush made his way to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and promised that things were going to change. "It is not right to have someone volunteer to wear our uniform and not get the best possible care," the president said in March. "We're going to fix the problem ... We're not going to be satisfied until everybody gets the kind of care that their folks and families expect."

So, how's it going?

The Government Accountability Office is out with a report on the issue this morning, and the grades it's giving aren't particularly encouraging. The GAO says that nearly half of all returning soldiers aren't getting personalized care that the Army said it would provide in the wake of revelations about Walter Reed; that the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs still don't have a good system for sharing soldiers' medical records; and that the government has, in the words of the Associated Press, "no apparent solution" for reducing delays -- they average 177 days -- in providing disability payments to wounded soldiers.

"Delayed decisions, confusing policies and the perception that DoD and VA disability ratings result in inequitable outcomes have eroded the credibility of the system," GAO investigators say in their report. "It is imperative that DoD and VA take prompt steps to address fundamental system weaknesses."

Those would be the same steps, we'd think, that the president said his administration would be taking six months ago.

Report: Bush said he'd invade Iraq no matter what

Tim Grieve, The War Room: In a revelation reminiscent of the Downing Street memo, the Spanish newspaper El Pais has obtained and published what it says is the transcript of a private conversation between George W. Bush and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar in February 2003.

In the conversation, Aznar reportedly urged Bush to get a second resolution from the United Nations in order to build public support for the invasion of Iraq. Bush's response: The United States would "be in Baghdad at the end of March" no matter what the United Nations did.

The president was true to his word, or at least the one he seems to have given in his private chat with Aznar: The U.N. never agreed to a second resolution on Iraq, and the United States invaded anyway.

Where’s the Outrage?

[Photo: 'Eeek, Mommy! He wants to take my health insurance!']

ecthompson: Now, just stand back and look at this. The President is saying that there isn’t enough money to expand SCHIP but there seems to be an endless black hole called Iraq.

Senator Byrd made one of his patented speeches against rubber stamping anything. The Dems haven’t been that much different than the Republicans as far as the big items go. More power for FISA - okay. Funding for the War - Okay. Restoring Habeas Corpus - not so much. What are they doing up there?

It is time to say no. Do not vote on this. Let the bill sit there. Until there is a firm timetable do not bring this up for a vote!

Rep. Patrick Murphy: Honoring All Those Who Serve

Someone should tell chicken-hawk Rush Limbaugh that the only phonies are those who choose not to serve and then criticize those who do. I served proudly, so did two of my fellow paratroopers in the 82nd Airborne who spoke out and died just weeks ago. Generations of American veterans have worn the uniform with pride and we know it is no contradiction to serve your country and still disagree with the Bush-civilian leadership that mismanaged this war.

When someone like Rush Limbaugh says that soldiers who disagree with the failed strategies of President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld are "phony soldiers," you have to consider the source.

Rush Limbaugh, who, in January, called Vietnam veteran Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) "Senator Betrayus" for disagreeing with President Bush, has made no secret of his disdain for those who serve and speak out. Where was Rush Limbaugh when it came time to serve his country?

What's more, where was Limbaugh's outrage when Max Cleland, a Senator who left three of his limbs in Vietnam was smeared on television? Where was Limbaugh when Senator John Kerry's (D-MA) service was called into question in the form of millions of dollars in campaign ads?

My service was questioned last year during my campaign for Congress. Fortunately, the swift-boat attack on me didn't stick because people in my district in Bucks County, Pennsylvania and across America know that if someone wears the uniform and serves their country they've earned our respect regardless of political party.

Sadly, the political debate in this country has devolved into who can be more outraged at the latest smear attempt on those who should be thanked and praised for devoted service. Rush Limbaugh's phony outrage and derisive words call into contrast that which we all must honor: our Armed Forces currently fighting for their lives and our freedom all across the world. We need to be vigilant and speak out against those who question the value of that service -- and that goes for people on the right and the left.

The real issue is how best to quickly, safely and successfully end this war. It's time for Limbaugh, Cheney and Bush to end the partisanship and work with those of us who want a change.

DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen Condemns Rush Limbaugh's Outrageous Comment: Rush Limbaugh's personal attack on our men and women in uniform is reprehensible. It minimizes the sacrifice our troops in Iraq and their families are making and has no place in the public discourse. Rush Limbaugh owes our military and their families an apology for his hurtful comments that minimize their service to our country.

John Aravosis (DC), AmericaBlog.com: Is Dick Cheney going to continue doing interviews with this hateful drug addict who dishonors our troops? Or was all the "outrage" from the Republicans about the MoveOn ad phony?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Webb: Lieberman And Kyl’s Hawkish Iran Amendment Is ‘Cheney’s Fondest Pipe Dream’

ThinkProgress.org: On the Senate floor [yesterday], Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) made an impassioned appeal to his fellow senators, declaring that the Lieberman-Kyl amendment on Iran should be “withdrawn” because the “proposal is Dick Cheney’s fondest pipe dream.” Webb cautioned that the “cleverly-worded sense of the Congress” could be “interpreted” to “declare war” on Iran. He continued:

Those who regret their vote five years ago to authorize military action in Iraq should think hard before supporting this approach. Because, in my view, it has the same potential to do harm where many are seeking to do good.

“At best, it’s a deliberate attempt to divert attention from a failed diplomatic policy,” said Webb. “At worst, it could be read as a backdoor method of gaining Congressional validation for military action, without one hearing and without serious debate.” (Click the pic to see the vid.)

Webb said that amendment’s attempt to categorize the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp as “a foreign terrorist organization” would, for all practical purposes, “mandate” the military option against Iran. “It could be read as tantamount to a declaration of war. What do we do with terrorist organizations? If they are involved against us, we attack them.”
He also slammed the lack of debate and examination that was accompanying the amendment, saying “this is not the way to make foreign policy”:

We haven’t had one hearing on this. I’m on the Foreign Relations Committee, I’m on the Armed Services Committee. We are about to vote on something that may fundamentally change the way the United States views the Iranian military and we haven’t had one hearing. This is not the way to make foreign policy. It’s not the way to declare war.

Rep. Yarmuth: Pres. Bush, “whose posteriors are we kicking and how do we know?”

Nicole Belle, Crooks and Liars: This morning, Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY03) stood up on the House floor and to ask President Bush a couple of questions. (Click on the pic for the vid.) Note the delicate sensibilities of the North Carolina congressman who doesn’t like throwing Bush’s own phrase back at him:

With brave American soldiers dying in record numbers, I have two questions for the President — just whose posteriors are we kicking and how do you know? With Sunnis and Shiites killing themselves and each other, plus an incompetent Maliki government, we don’t know who we’re fighting, much less where we’re kicking them. And while we’re tied up in Iraq, Al Qaeda thrives in Pakistan and Afghanistan. So the President’s turn of phrase will go to the blooper hall of fame with other Bush Golden Oldies like "last throes," "links to Al Qaeda" and "Mission Accomplished." There was a time when America’s success meant defeating Nazis, tearing down communism’s Iron Curtain and walking on the moon. Supporting our troops meant honest safeguards, not trash talk. How low have our standards fallen when the President points to the debacle he created and says, 'this is what I’m proud of.' Most Americans believe in a country that’s capable of much higher standards, and if America were really “kicking butt,” the President wouldn’t need to say anything, every one would know it.

By the way, you're not safer. Violent crime is going up.

Joe Sudbay (DC), AmericaBlog.com: Yes, the President who told you he'd make you safer, well he lied. Violent crime is on the rise again. This is another one of those areas where Republicans talk tough, but don't really do anything. Crime decreased dramatically during the Clinton administration. Under Bush, we're in more danger in our cities and towns. This shouldn't come as a surprise considering our top law enforcement official for the past couple years was Alberto Gonzales.

Heckuva job, Bushie:

The number of violent crimes increased by a larger amount than expected last year, extending the first significant rise in murders and robberies in a dozen years, according to an FBI report released today.

The FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting Program shows that robberies surged by 7.2 percent and murders rose 1.8 percent from 2005 to 2006. Violent crime overall rose 1.9 percent, notably more than an increase of 1.3 percent estimated in a preliminary FBI report in June.

The increase was the second in two years, following a 2.3 percent jump in 2005. Taken together, the two years comprise the first steady increase in violent crimes since 1993.

The FBI report presents a significant political challenge for the Bush administration, which has faced growing criticism from congressional Democrats, big-city mayors and police chiefs for presiding over cuts in federal assistance to local law enforcement agencies over the last six years.

Of course this is a significant political challenge for Bush. Every single issue is a significant political challenge for Bush. We need the Bush team to actually focus on the policy, not the politics.

Bush’s Priorities - Iraq, Not America's Kids

Washington, D.C. – House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel issued the following statement after reports indicated that President Bush will ask for $200 billion for the war in Iraq and threatened to veto a bipartisan plan to provide health care to 10 million children:

“This week, the President asked for $200 billion more for the war in Iraq. In the same week, the White House said the bipartisan plan to give 10 million children health care included ‘excessive spending’ and threatened to veto the plan. For this President who helped rack up three trillion dollars in new debt, it is not about the spending, it is about priorities and the President has made his clear.”

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Shuster to Rep. Blackburn: “When was the last time a New York Times ad ever killed somebody?”

Logan Murphy, Crooks and Liars: Tucker substitute host David Shuster confronts Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) about the blatant hypocrisy of the Republican party when he asks about Rush Limbaugh’s Senator Betrayus smear against Senator Chuck Hagel and all Blackburn wants to do is rehash tired slams against the New York Times over the MoveOn ad.

As Blackburn prattles on about the NYT betraying the public trust and making sweetheart deals, Shuster turns the tables on her and asks her to name the last soldier from her district who was killed in Iraq — and what do you know? She had no idea what his name was, or even why she didn’t know. Watch Blackburn stutter and get backed into a corner, with Shuster proving she cared more about making partisan hits than she did about the dead soldiers from her own district. (Click on pic for the vid.)

Why did Bush cut & run from a free press in Egypt?

Chris in Paris, AmericaBlog.com: This sounds a lot like Bush I abandoning the Iraqis who jumped up when the US said "I have you covered" during the first Gulf War. If Bush II wants to talk about democracy he's going to have to actually back up his talk with action because just like in Iraq after the Gulf War, people who heed the call and stand up will pay a very severe price. The Egyptians who promoted an independent press after listening to Bush are now being arrested and threatened with jail.

Two days later, on Sept. 13, Eissa and three other newspaper editors were hauled into court and sentenced to a year in prison for publishing articles critical of Mubarak; his son and presumed heir, Gamal; and other government officials. It was the biggest single assault on the press in Mubarak's quarter-century in power and one of the worst blows in years to media freedom in the Arabic-speaking world.

Yet there was no reaction from the State Department or the White House, which Kassem once credited with helping to create the space his newspaper occupied. "We were getting air cover from the Bush administration," the publisher told me. "But when the fighting started last month they were not out there with us in the outposts. Instead, they effectively said, 'You are on your own.' It's put us in a very difficult position -- and I mean all of us who supported democracy in the greater Middle East."

If the US has any interest in democracy and remaining friendly with Egypt into the future, we have to do better than this but since when has Bush ever really cared about democracy or a free press? So is Bush going to stand up for the three journalists in Egypt who were just sentenced to prison for "damaging the image of justice" whatever that's supposed to mean?

LSB: "damaging the image of justice"? Can you recall any American leader in our history that has damaged the image of justice more than Bush? What a laugh!

Progress?: Bomber Kills 16 at Iraqi Reconciliation Banquet

New York Times: A suicide bomber blew himself up on Monday at a banquet intended to be a reconciliation feast between provincial officials and former Sunni insurgents in Diyala Province, killing 16 people and wounding at least 28.

Among the wounded were the provincial governor, the regional police chief and the local military commander, local police officials said. At least one former insurgent leader was killed, they said.

The gathering was of the type that is a cornerstone of American plans to reconcile former insurgents with the Iraqi government and enlist their help in fighting Sunni extremist groups. The strategy has produced security gains in Sunni areas in western Iraq, and the military is trying to repeat that success in places like Diyala, a mixed area of Sunnis and Shiites north of Baghdad.

The American military confirmed that American officers had attended the meeting, held at a Shiite mosque in an outlying district of Baquba, the provincial capital. It said soldiers had been attacked by a suicide bomber, but said nothing about any wounded or dead among the Americans. (More)

LSB: Glass half full - at least there was an attempt at a reconciliation; glass half empty - the provincial governor, the regional police chief, the local military commander, at least one former insurgent leader, and possibly some Americans were killed, ending the reconciliation feast if not the actual reconciliation. Bottom line: is this the "progress" we're being promised by Shrub and Darth?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Bush: We Can’t Spend $22 Billion On America Because We Need $200 Billion For Iraq War

ThinkProgress.org: The Democratic leadership in Congress is set to pass a host of domestic funding bills that would exceed Bush’s request by $22 billion. The extra funding would help go towards veterans health care, infrastructure improvements, education, and other domestic priorities.

Speaking to business leaders at a White House event this morning, Bush railed against the relatively modest increase in spending, arguing that $22 billion is “a lot of money”:

Some in Congress will tell you that $22 billion is not a lot of money. As business leaders, you know better. As a matter of fact, $22 billion is larger than the annual revenues of most Fortune 500 companies. The $22 billion is only for the first year. With every passing year the number gets bigger and bigger, and so over the next five years the increase in federal spending would add up to $205 billion.
Bush warned that spending increases, which could add up to over $200 billion over five years, would be “taking money out of the pocket” of Americans who need to “pay their mortgages or pay for their children going to college.” Unfortunately, Bush failed to appreciate the irony in his remarks.

While complaining of modest spending increases on much-needed domestic funding priorities, Bush is far less concerned about the impact of spending $200 billion in the next year alone on a disastrous war in Iraq:

President Bush plans to ask lawmakers next week to approve another massive spending measure — totaling nearly $200 billion — to fund the war through next year, Pentagon officials said.
It shouldn’t take a “CEO President” to figure out that $200 billion is greater than $22 billion.

Republican Senator At Center Of D.C. Madam Scandal Earmarks $100K For Christian Anti-Darwin Group

Via The Times Picayune:

Sen. David Vitter, R-La., earmarked $100,000 in a spending bill for a Louisiana Christian group that has challenged the teaching of Darwinian evolution in the public school system and to which he has political ties.

The money is included in the labor, health and education financing bill for fiscal 2008 and specifies payment to the Louisiana Family Forum “to develop a plan to promote better science education.”

The earmark appears to be the latest salvo in a decades-long battle over science education in Louisiana, in which some Christian groups have opposed the teaching of evolution and, more recently, have pushed to have it prominently labeled as a theory with other alternatives presented. Educators and others have decried the movement as a backdoor effort to inject religious teachings into the classroom.

The nonprofit Louisiana Family Forum, launched in Baton Rouge in 1999 by former state Rep. Tony Perkins, has in recent years taken the lead in promoting “origins science,” which includes the possibility of divine intervention in the creation of the universe. [Perkins, btw, is tied to former KKK Wizard David Duke. He paid Duke $82K for his mailing list.]

The group’s stated mission is to “persuasively present biblical principles in the centers of influence on issues affecting the family through research, communication and networking.” Until recently, its Web site contained a “battle plan to combat evolution,” which called the theory a “dangerous” concept that “has no place in the classroom.” The document was removed after a reporter’s inquiry. Read full article here…

Logan Murphy, Crooks and Liars: The Republican senator may have the support of the majority of his hypocritical party, but he isn’t out of the woods yet. Please contact your Senators and tell them to say no to Vitter’s intentional violation of the separation between Church and State and demand the earmark be removed from the bill.

KatRose, Pam's House Blend: "I think that, given that the Dems have no backbone whatsoever when it comes to standing up to the Iraq War lies, it is our duty to force them to make a stand on this (illegal contribution to anti-constitutionist nutcases) piece of pork. They ran on ethics in '06; they implicitly stand for science over ChristoBush mythology - so they damn well better be willing to not simply cut this tumor from the bill but also make a spectacle of it - and this clown's psycho-hypocritical 'morals' - in the process."

Rewriting 'God Bless America'

Steve Benen, Talking Points Memo: It didn't generate much in the way of media attention this week, but a bunch of religious right groups co-sponsored the first-ever "Values Voter" debate a few days ago for the GOP presidential field. The top four (Giuliani, Romney, McCain, and Thompson) stayed away, but seven other Republican presidential hopefuls cozied up to luminaries such as Phyllis Schlafly, Paul Weyrich, and Don Wildmon.

There were plenty of bizarre questions and answers, but one of the elements of the debate that stood out for me was, oddly enough, the song that got things started. Event organizers invited the Church of God Choir, from Springfield, Ohio, to sing "God Bless America" -- except the lyrics were rewritten. Instead of a song about "the land that I love," and "home sweet home," this version condemns the country, saying we've all turned against God, and that He won't bless us. It was a big hit among the conservative Republicans in the room.



(The lyrics are here.)

I'm trying to imagine the response if, say, Yearly Kos hosted a Democratic presidential candidate forum, which started with a rewritten version of "God Bless America" that disparaged the United States.

It's the kind of thing Fox News would jump all over -- and every Democratic candidate on hand would be asked whether they agreed with the song's lyrical condemnation of the country. Bill O'Reilly would tell us that "God Bless America" is fine the way it is, and it doesn't need to be rewritten by liberals to serve a radical political agenda.

Admittedly, it gets tiresome to hear "if this were a Democrat..." but in this case, I think it's appropriate.

Real Time Overtime: On OJ, Iraq and Democratic Messaging

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Weeds: Masturbation Lesson

From HBO's "Weeds" - Uncle Andy teaches Shane how to pleasure himself without disrupting the plumbing.

LSB: This is a HUGE departure from what is usually posted here, but it was too damn funny not to share. Enjoy!

Democrats Should Attack Bush, Not MoveOn

Before a single Democrat condemns MoveOn's ad, they should insist that George W. Bush and the Republican Party repudiate the anti-military smears on war heroes that have been the hallmark of Mr. Bush's political career.

Too many Democrats still think Mr. Bush's presidency is on the level. Let's be clear. Mr. Bush is not leading a serious, sober discussion about public discourse during a war. He wants to divide progressives and score political points. We should not let him. Throughout his career he's been willing to tolerate and benefit from vicious lies about military men. We should not concede that he is legitimately angry now.

Mr. Bush is, as he likes to say, a loving guy. But by golly the MoveOn.org ad criticizing Gen. David Petraeus has him madder than Larry Craig in a pay toilet.

When a "reporter" asked him a loaded question about the MoveOn ad (not mentioning, for example, that Petraeus wrote an op-ed in support of the Bush Iraq policy a few weeks before the 2004 election), Bush swung for the fences. But then again, he's always been pretty good at T-Ball - and this was definitely teed up for him.

He slammed MoveOn, repeating language he used Wednesday in a meeting with right-wing columnists, saying that criticizing Petraeus is tantamount to attacking the entire US military, and expressing astonishment that leading Democrats have not attacked MoveOn as courageously as Bush has.

Before Democrats fall all over themselves to agree with a president whose trust and honesty rating from the American people is even lower than his IQ, let's look at the real record of Bush's cowardice when it comes to speaking out against attacks on military heroes:
  • In the 2000 South Carolina primary, George W. Bush stood next to a man described as a "fringe" figure - a man who had attacked Bush's own father - at a Bush rally. With Bush applauding him, the man said John McCain "abandoned" veterans. McCain, who was tortured in a North Vietnamese POW camp, was incensed. Five U.S. Senators who fought in Vietnam, including Democrats John Kerry, Max Cleland and Bob Kerrey, condemned the attack and called on Bush to repudiate it. When pressed on it at a debate hosted by CNN's Larry King, Bush meekly muttered that he shouldn't be held responsible for what others say. Even when he's standing next to them at a Bush rally.
  • In the 2002 campaign, draft dodger Saxby Chambliss ran an ad with pictures of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, then said Sen. Max Cleland lacked courage. Max Cleland left three limbs in Vietnam as an Army captain. Mr. Bush's political aide, Karl Rove, later refused to disavow the ad, saying, "President Bush and the White House don't write the ads for Senate candidates."
  • Also in the 2002 campaign, the PAC for the Family Research Council, a close Bush ally, ran an ad in South Dakota that pictured Sen. Tom Daschle and Saddam Hussein. "What do Saddam Hussein and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle have in common?" the ad asked. Apparently, they both opposed drilling in the Arctic wilderness. First, I had no idea that supporting drilling in the wilderness is a family values issue. Second, I have seen no reporting on the late Iraqi dictator's position on Alaska drilling. But I do know Tom Daschle is an Air Force veteran. Mr. Bush never disavowed the smear.
  • But perhaps the worst was what was done to John Kerry. Kerry earned five major medals in combat: the Silver Star, the Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts. And yet supporters of Bush and Cheney decided to smear his war record. The despicable, dishonest Swift Boat attacks alleged that Kerry fabricated reports that earned him the Bronze Star. The Swifties also suggested that Kerry's wounds were insignificant - and that one was even self-inflicted. Kerry's wounds were certainly more serious than Mr. Bush's, who suffered a cut on his finger from popping a beer can while avoiding his duty in the Alabama National Guard. At the 2000 GOP convention, rich, white Republicans were photographed gleefully putting Band-Aids with purple hearts on their chubby cheeks. Mr. Bush refused to condemn the attack - blandly noting he didn't like 527 groups generally - and later nominated one of the men who financed the smear to be Ambassador to Belgium.

Mr. Bush is a coward and a bully. He knows he'll never be the kind of hero his father was. He knows he lacks the heroism of John Kerry or Max Cleland, so he overcompensates with bluster and bravado. In fact, he told bloggers recently that he wishes he were fighting in Iraq. The Washington Post's Dan Froomkin reported that Bush told a blogger in Iraq that he'd like to be carrying a 50-pound pack and an M-16, but, "One, I'm too old to be out there. And, two, they'd notice me."

So Mr. Bush is too old to fight in Iraq, and he was too rich and well-connected to fight in Vietnam. But he's itchin' for a fight with a progressive interest group. Does anyone believe he'd have the same outrage if a right-wing group were attacking war heroes? Of course not.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

$500,000

The amount the war in Iraq costs per minute, according to a new analysis by Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard’s Linda Bilmes, put out by the American Friends Service Committee. The study finds that this $720 million a day could buy homes for 6,500 families or health care for 423,529 children.

LSB: Beyond the human cost of the war, this must be the "small price" of the war to which John Boehner was referring.

Iraqi Government: Blackwater Guards Fired Unprovoked

AP Via Yahoo:

Iraqi investigators have a videotape that shows Blackwater USA guards opened fire against civilians without provocation in an incident last week in which 11 people died, a senior Iraqi official said Saturday. He said the case was referred to the Iraqi judiciary.

Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf said Iraqi authorities had completed an investigation into the Sept. 16 shooting in Nisoor Square in western Baghdad and concluded that Blackwater guards were responsible for the deaths.

He told The Associated Press that the conclusion was based on witness statements as well as videotape shot by cameras at the nearby headquarters of the national police command. He said eight people were killed at the scene and three of the 15 wounded died in hospitals. Read more…

Crooks and Liars has been documenting Blackwater’s activities for some time now. While it would be heartening to think these investigations by the Iraqi government will end in justice for the families of the murdered, it’s not a likely outcome. It’s put up or shut up time for the Bush administration — if the Iraqi government is truly sovereign as they love to shout at every opportunity, they need to step back and let them make their own decisions. In a separate matter, Blackwater has released a statement in which they deny illegal arms activities in Iraq.