Sunday, January 27, 2008
It is no secret that the Bush administration has already been spying on the e-mail, voice-over-IP, and other Internet exchanges between American citizens since as early as and possibly earlier than Sept. 11, 2001. The National Security Agency has set up shop in the hubs of major telecom corporations, notably AT&T, installing equipment that makes copies of the contents of all Internet traffic, routing it to a government database and then using natural language parsing technology to sift through and analyze the data using undisclosed search criteria. It has done this without judicial oversight and obviously without the consent of the millions of Americans under surveillance. Given any rational interpretation of the Fourth Amendment, its mass spying operation is illegal and unconstitutional.
But now the administration wants to make these illegal activities legal. And why is that? According to National Director of Intelligence Mike McConnell, who is now drafting the proposal, an attack on a single U.S. bank by the 9/11 terrorists would have had a far more serious impact on the U.S. economy than the destruction of the Twin Towers. “My prediction is that we’re going to screw around with this until something horrendous happens,” said McConnell. So the way to prevent this from happening, he claims, is to give the government the power to spy at will on the content of all e-mails, file transfers and Web searches.
McConnell’s prediction of something “horrendous” happening unless we grant government this authority has a tone similar to that of the fear-mongering call to arms against terrorism that President Bush sounded before taking us to war in Iraq. Now, Americans are about to be asked to surrender their Fourth Amendment rights because of a vague and unsupported prediction of the dangers and costs of cyber-terrorism. (More)
LSB: Emphasis added. Will Reid find his balls and show some leadership in the Senate to challenge the administration on this? Will Pelosi stop kowtowing to the degenerates in the White House long enough to put impeachment back on the table? And will AT&T and the other ISPs forgo their illegal invasions into the privacy of the American public if there is no retroactive immunity or if the government is again late with their monthly payment? This sucks!
Michael Crawford, Bloggernista: This is simply one of the most inspiring political speeches that I have ever heard. Barack is clearly the president we need to beat back the slash and burn politics as usual, the politics of personal destruction and the Clinton Machine.
So this will not be easy. Make no mistake about what we’re up against.
We are up against the belief that it’s ok for lobbyists to dominate our government – that they are just part of the system in Washington. But we know that the undue influence of lobbyists is part of the problem, and this election is our chance to say that we’re not going to let them stand in our way anymore.
We are up against the conventional thinking that says your ability to lead as President comes from longevity in Washington or proximity to the White House. But we know that real leadership is about candor, and judgment, and the ability to rally Americans from all walks of life around a common purpose – a higher purpose.
We are up against decades of bitter partisanship that cause politicians to demonize their opponents instead of coming together to make college affordable or energy cleaner; it’s the kind of partisanship where you’re not even allowed to say that a Republican had an idea – even if it’s one you never agreed with. That kind of politics is bad for our party, it’s bad for our country, and this is our chance to end it once and for all.
We are up against the idea that it’s acceptable to say anything and do anything to win an election. We know that this is exactly what’s wrong with our politics; this is why people don’t believe what their leaders say anymore; this is why they tune out. And this election is our chance to give the American people a reason to believe again.
And what we’ve seen in these last weeks is that we’re also up against forces that are not the fault of any one campaign, but feed the habits that prevent us from being who we want to be as a nation. It’s the politics that uses religion as a wedge, and patriotism as a bludgeon. A politics that tells us that we have to think, act, and even vote within the confines of the categories that supposedly define us. The assumption that young people are apathetic. The assumption that Republicans won’t cross over. The assumption that the wealthy care nothing for the poor, and that the poor don’t vote. The assumption that African-Americans can’t support the white candidate; whites can’t support the African-American candidate; blacks and Latinos can’t come together.
But we are here tonight to say that this is not the America we believe in. I did not travel around this state over the last year and see a white South Carolina or a black South Carolina. I saw South Carolina. I saw crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children. I saw shuttered mills and homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from all walks of life, and men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag. I saw what America is, and I believe in what this country can be.
Read the full text of Barack Obama’s South Carolina victory speech.
My reasons are patriotic, political and personal, and the three are intertwined. All my life, people have told me that my father changed their lives, that they got involved in public service or politics because he asked them to. And the generation he inspired has passed that spirit on to its children. I meet young people who were born long after John F. Kennedy was president, yet who ask me how to live out his ideals.
Sometimes it takes a while to recognize that someone has a special ability to get us to believe in ourselves, to tie that belief to our highest ideals and imagine that together we can do great things. In those rare moments, when such a person comes along, we need to put aside our plans and reach for what we know is possible.
We have that kind of opportunity with Senator Obama. It isn’t that the other candidates are not experienced or knowledgeable. But this year, that may not be enough. We need a change in the leadership of this country — just as we did in 1960.
Most of us would prefer to base our voting decision on policy differences. However, the candidates’ goals are similar. They have all laid out detailed plans on everything from strengthening our middle class to investing in early childhood education. So qualities of leadership, character and judgment play a larger role than usual.
Senator Obama has demonstrated these qualities throughout his more than two decades of public service, not just in the United States Senate but in Illinois, where he helped turn around struggling communities, taught constitutional law and was an elected state official for eight years. And Senator Obama is showing the same qualities today. He has built a movement that is changing the face of politics in this country, and he has demonstrated a special gift for inspiring young people — known for a willingness to volunteer, but an aversion to politics — to become engaged in the political process.
I have spent the past five years working in the New York City public schools and have three teenage children of my own. There is a generation coming of age that is hopeful, hard-working, innovative and imaginative. But too many of them are also hopeless, defeated and disengaged. As parents, we have a responsibility to help our children to believe in themselves and in their power to shape their future. Senator Obama is inspiring my children, my parents’ grandchildren, with that sense of possibility.
Senator Obama is running a dignified and honest campaign. He has spoken eloquently about the role of faith in his life, and opened a window into his character in two compelling books. And when it comes to judgment, Barack Obama made the right call on the most important issue of our time by opposing the war in Iraq from the beginning.
I want a president who understands that his responsibility is to articulate a vision and encourage others to achieve it; who holds himself, and those around him, to the highest ethical standards; who appeals to the hopes of those who still believe in the American Dream, and those around the world who still believe in the American ideal; and who can lift our spirits, and make us believe again that our country needs every one of us to get involved.
I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president — not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans.
Caroline Kennedy is the author of “A Patriot’s Handbook: Songs, Poems, Stories and Speeches Celebrating the Land We Love.”
Unfortunately, Jacob Weisberg, the author of a forthcoming book on the President, did a bit of research on the painting and discovered that it really depicts "a silver-tongued horse thief fleeing from a lynch mob."
Writes Harpers: "The president of the United States has identified closely with a man he sees as a mythic, heroic figure. But in fact he’s a wily criminal one step out in front of justice. It perfectly reflects Bush the man. . . and Bush the president."
Read all about it here.
(I actually think he really likes the painting cause the guy on the horse looks like him...)
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
The study concluded that the statements "were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses." ...
The study counted 935 false statements in the two-year period. It found that in speeches, briefings, interviews and other venues, Bush and administration officials stated unequivocally on at least 532 occasions that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or was trying to produce or obtain them or had links to al-Qaida or both.
"It is now beyond dispute that Iraq did not possess any weapons of mass destruction or have meaningful ties to al-Qaida," according to Charles Lewis and Mark Reading-Smith of the Fund for Independence in Journalism staff members, writing an overview of the study. "In short, the Bush administration led the nation to war on the basis of erroneous information that it methodically propagated and that culminated in military action against Iraq on March 19, 2003."
Named in the study along with Bush were top officials of the administration during the period studied: Vice President Dick Cheney, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and White House press secretaries Ari Fleischer and Scott McClellan.
Bush led with 259 false statements, 231 about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and 28 about Iraq's links to al-Qaida, the study found. That was second only to Powell's 244 false statements about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and 10 about Iraq and al-Qaida.
The center said the study was based on a database created with public statements over the two years beginning on Sept. 11, 2001, and information from more than 25 government reports, books, articles, speeches and interviews. ...
"Some journalists — indeed, even some entire news organizations — have since acknowledged that their coverage during those prewar months was far too deferential and uncritical. These mea culpas notwithstanding, much of the wall-to-wall media coverage provided additional, 'independent' validation of the Bush administration's false statements about Iraq," it said.
LSB: I knew there were a lot of lies, but didn't realize there were this many. This in info FAUX-News won't be reporting - or at least reporting without their own unique spin on the facts.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
“There is a concrete strategy by the Clintons,” Obama said.
Any objective review of how Bill and Hillary Clinton have been twisting comments Obama made about Ronald Reagan and the Republican party would concur.
As we've previously reviewed, Obama, asked by the editorial board of the Reno Gazette-Journal, how his being the nominee might help down-ballot candidates, such as Senators and Congressmen, get elected, said:
"I think that we're shifting the political paradigm here. And if I'm the nominee, I think I can bring a lot of folks along on my coattails. You know, there's a reason why in 2006, I made the most appearances for members of Congress. I was the most requested surrogate to come in and campaign for people in districts that were swing districts, Republican districts where they wouldn't have any other Democrat.
"That was based on their read of the fact that, you know what, this is somebody who can reach out to independents and Republicans in a way that doesn't offend people…I don't want to present myself as some sort of singular figure. I think part of what's different are the times.
"I do think that, for example, the 1980 election was different. I mean, I think Ronald
Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that, you know, Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. They felt like, you know, with all the excesses of the 60's and the 70's and government had grown and grown but there wasn't much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating and he tapped into what people were already feeling. Which is, people wanted clarity, we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamic and entrepreneurship that had been missing, alright? I think Kennedy, twenty years earlier, moved the country in a fundamentally different direction. So I think a lot of it just has to do with the times.
"I think we're in one of those times right now. Where people feel like things as they are going aren't working. We're bogged down in the same arguments that we've been having, and they're not useful. And, you know, the Republican approach, I think, has played itself out. I think it's fair to say the Republicans were the party of ideas for a pretty long chunk of time there over the last ten, fifteen years, in the sense that they were challenging conventional wisdom. Now, you've heard it all before. You look at the economic policies when they're being debated among the Presidential candidates and it's all tax cuts. Well, you know, we've done that, we tried it. That's not really going to solve our energy problems, for example. So, some of it's the times. And some of it's, I think, there's maybe a generation element to this, partly. In the sense that there's a, I didn't did come of age in the battles of the 60's. I'm not as invested in them.
"And so I think I talk differently about issues. And I think I talk differently about values. And that's why, I think we've been resonating with the American people."
You can watch the whole thing HERE.
Sen. Clinton twisted this into: "I have to say, you know, my leading opponent the other day said that he thought the Republicans had better ideas than Democrats the last ten to fifteen years."
That's not what Obama said.
And in Buffalo, N.Y., former President Bill Clinton twisted this into Obama "said President Reagan was the engine of innovation and did more, had a more lasting impact on America than I did. And then the next day he said, 'In the 90s the good ideas came out from the Republicans. Which it'll be costly maybe down the road for him because it's factually not accurate.”
What's factually not accurate is what President Bill Clinton said.
I know he wants his wife to beat Obama. And it seems that unleashing the Big Dog seems to be working for the Clinton campaign.
Perhaps some voters are even touched by his passion.
But let's be clear -- Bill Clinton is spreading demonstrably false information.
There's winning ugly, and there's winning with honor.
Does it matter? Or is all fair in politics and war?
LSB: Emphasis added.
The Carpetbagger Report: At this point, highlighting Rudy Giuliani’s many serious flaws almost seems gratuitous. His presidential campaign has become something of a laughing stock, exacerbated yesterday by a poll showing him running third in his own home state. It’s tempting to wait to kick the guy until after he’s off the ground.
But, even if we operate under the (probably safe) assumption that Giuliani’s campaign is toast, it’s probably still worth highlighting the fact that the nation dodged a bullet with the downfall of the one-time frontrunner.
The NYT has a fascinating item today, for example, highlighting the extraordinary lengths the former mayor would go to punish anyone, vindictively and aggressively, for even modest criticism of Giuliani. (more)
We should be glad that our Social Security money wasn’t in the privatized hands of Citibank, Merrill Lynch and the other financial ‘wizards’ as President Bush had so strongly urged.
That's true as far as it goes. But in fact, the further the stock market drops, the less bad an idea privatizing Social Security becomes. (More precisely, the further the price/earnings ratio drops, the less bad it is.) That's because stocks have been comparatively expensive, historically speaking (as measured by the P/E ratio). That means privatization would have led to lots of people buying high and likely selling low. Privatizing Social Security would be a bad idea in almost all circumstances, but the least bad moment to enact it would be just after a stock market collapse.
That's the funny thing about privatization. It will be politically most popular during a stock market bubble, at the exact worst time to do it. And it will be politically impossible when it makes a little more sense. If there's a giant stock market crash this year, don't look for Bush to seize the opportunity to roll out his privatization plan again.
Granted, this isn't all THAT funny. But at a time when much of the world is about to get kicked in the nads even harder than usual, I'll take what I can get.
Tim Paradis, AP News: Wall Street was expected to plunge at the opening of trading Tuesday, extending its huge losses from last week and taking more cues from heavy selling that has spread throughout the world. Indicators showed the Dow Jones industrial average was set to fall by more than 500 points when trading begins. (more)
LSB: Oh shit! Let's hope it isn't that bad, but percentage-wise that would fall just about in line with what the other world markets experienced yesterday.Raw Story: Dow dropped nearly 400 in first 10 minutes; live market data here. (At 10:35a CST, the DJI had rebounded to -168... -57.55 at 12:28p CST...)
- “The federal investigation into the firing of nine U.S. attorneys could jolt the political landscape ahead of the November elections.” Congressional investigations “appear to be far narrower than a sprawling inquiry launched by the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General and the Office of Professional Responsibility.”
- President Bush’s attempt to revive the world’s biggest economy “was greeted with heavy skepticism on Tuesday as markets tumbled across the globe.” Markets in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Sydney all fell farther in late trading Tuesday than they had all day on Monday.
- “The Federal Reserve, confronted with a global stock sell-off fanned by increased fears of a recession, cut a key interest rate by three-quarters of a percentage point on Tuesday.”
Bloomberg writes that President Bush has become a “supplicant” to the Saudis for assistance to overcome a recession. “The Saudi monarchy once depended on the U.S. to protect its reign and its oil from foes like Saddam Hussein. These days, President George W. Bush needs the world’s biggest exporter of crude more than it needs him.”
- Early in the Bush administration, the White House “scrapped a custom archiving system” for e-mail records “that the Clinton administration had adopted under a federal court order.” “The Bush White House also recorded over computer backup tapes” for archiving e-mails, “even though a similar practice landed the Clinton administration in legal trouble.”
- “The percent of Army recruits with a high school diploma dropped last year, continuing a trend that has worsened since the start of the Iraq war,” according to a new report by the National Priorities Project released Tuesday. In 2007, “nearly 71 percent of Army recruits graduated from high school,” falling short of the Army’s goal of 90 percent.
- Thirty-five years after the Supreme Court legalized abortion, the U.S. has seen a drop in the rate of abortions to its “lowest level in more than three decades.” NPR reports this morning that at anti-abortion groups in at least six states “are pursuing constitutional amendments called human life amendments that would grant legal status and rights to an embryo.” [LSB: Could the decline be a result of the effectiveness of the 'morning after' pill?]
- “Undocumented immigrants are driving up the number of people without health insurance.” The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that 59 percent of the nation’s undocumented immigrants are uninsured, and they represent about 15% of the nation’s 47 million uninsured people.
- And finally: In yesterday’s CNN Democratic presidential candidate debate, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) was asked about “novelist Toni Morrison’s salute to Bill Clinton as ‘the first black President.’” Obama replied: “I would have to investigate more Bill’s dancing abilities and some of this other stuff before I accurately judged whether he was, in fact, a brother.” [LSB: LOL!]
LSB: I don't usually include the entire list for ThinkFast here, as I pick the items that interest me and post a lengthier and more complete story. Today, however, ThinkFast was chocked full of too many interesting stories. Thanks, ThinkProgress, for all you do!
Clinton brings up Obama’s past statements on Iraq and refers to a recent statement he made about Ronald Reagan — and it was on. Clinton accused Obama of not being consistent in his statements about Iraq and his stance on Republican programs and Obama shot back sharply. There’s plenty of nastiness in this exchange, both candidates took brutal shots at each other.
Obama: "…Because when I was working on those streets watching those folks see their jobs shipped overseas, you were a corporate lawyer sitting on the board of Wal-Mart. I was fighting these fights."
Clinton: "I was fighting those ideas while you were practicing law and representing your contributor, Rezko, in his slum-landlord business in inner city Chicago."
HuffingtonPost.com: One of the more heated moments from Monday's Democratic debate came during a discussion of Barack Obama's recent comments about Ronald Reagan, which he said had been distorted by Hillary and Bill Clinton.Hillary Clinton told Obama, "You talked about Ronald Reagan being a transformative political leader. I did not mention his name." Obama responded, "Your husband did." She shot back, "Well, I'm here. He's not. And..." But Obama interrupted, "Well, I can't tell who I'm running against sometimes." (Included in the clip at 06:20.)
LSB: Right on, Barak! Bill, who has every right to support his wife, is out of control. He's manic in his support of his wife. Like it or not, he is a former President and SHOULD be neutral - or at least less vocal - until a candidate has been selected. If Bill is this vocal now, what can we expect of him as First Gentleman? I didn't vote for Hillary in 1992 or 1996 as she was the candidate's spouse - not the candidate. If Hillary takes the convention this year, I'm not sure if I can use that same logic in 2008. Chill Bill!
MSNBC: Can Democratic leaders get Bill Clinton to 'pipe down'? Prominent Democrats, including Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL), recently told former President Bill Clinton he has to tone down his campaign rhetoric against Barack Obama. Jonathan Alter, who broke that story for Newsweek, explained to the hosts of MSNBC's Morning Joe that the party leaders felt that, although it was acceptable for Clinton to say nice things about his wife, it was "inappropriate for a former president -- and the guy who is informally still the head of the Democratic Party -- to be out trashing another Democrat."
…I appreciate that on the major issues of health care, the environment, and the economy, you have framed the issues for what they are - a struggle for justice. And, you have almost single-handedly made poverty an issue in this election.
You know as well as anyone that the 37 million people living in poverty have no voice in our system. They don’t have lobbyists in Washington and they don’t get to go to lunch with members of Congress. Speaking up for them is not politically convenient. But, it is the right thing to do.
I am disturbed by how little attention the topic of economic justice has received
during this campaign. I want to challenge all candidates to follow your lead, and speak up loudly and forcefully on the issue of economic justice in America.[..]
I believe that now, more than ever, we need a leader who wakes up every morning with the knowledge of that injustice in the forefront of their minds, and who knows that when we commit ourselves to a cause as a nation, we can make major strides in our own lifetimes. My father was not driven by an illusory vision of a perfect society. He was driven by the certain knowledge that when people of good faith and strong principles commit to making things better, we can change hearts, we can change minds, and we can change lives.
So, I urge you: keep going. Ignore the pundits, who think this is a horserace, not a fight for justice. My dad was a fighter. As a friend and a believer in my father’s words that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, I say to you: keep going. Keep fighting. My father would be proud.
LSB: I, too, hope Edwards keeps going. Statistically he may not get the votes, but he keeps the debates honest. His voice would be missed.
Monday, January 21, 2008
Say it with me everybody: HYPOCRITE!
The district attorney who defended the Texas law criminalizing homosexuality before the US Supreme Court is desperately trying to keep his job following the discovery of e-mails containing sexually explicit videos, racist jokes and what is described as torrid love notes to his executive secretary.
Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal (R) is facing a state investigation into the emails which were discovered on his office computer.
Rosenthal is married and has portrayed himself as a strong defender of family values and the sanctity of marriage.
In 2002 when he was vigorously defending the Texas sodomy before the Supreme Court, Rosenthal had this to say about adultery and homosexuality:
While Rosenthal argued in 2002 that there is “no protected right to engage in extrasexual - extramarital sexual relations” he is fighting to keep his job. He has, however, abandoned his campaign for re-election.
“I think that this Court having determined that there are certain kinds of conduct that it will accept and certain kinds of conduct it will not accept may draw the line at the bedroom door of the heterosexual married couple because of the interest that this Court has that this Nation has and certainly that the State of Texas has for the preservation of marriage, families and the procreation of children,” Rosenthal told the justices.
“Even if you infer that various States acting through their legislative process have repealed sodomy laws, there is no protected right to engage in extrasexual - extramarital sexual relations, again, that can trace their roots to history or the traditions of this nation.”
Obama struck a chord of unity – political and racial harmony, but also compassion for gays, immigrants and people of different faiths. He praised King’s legacy and portrayed his candidacy as a vehicle to fulfill the work that King started. He offered uplifting rhetoric, but also tough love.
"For most of this country's history, we in the African-American community have been at the receiving end of man's inhumanity to man. And all of us understand intimately the insidious role that race still sometimes plays - on the job, in the schools, in our health care system, and in our criminal justice system.
"And yet, if we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that none of our hands are entirely clean. If we're honest with ourselves, we'll acknowledge that our own community has not always been true to King's vision of a beloved community.
"We have scorned our gay brothers and sisters instead of embracing them. The scourge of anti-Semitism has, at times, revealed itself in our community. For too long, some of us have seen immigrants as competitors for jobs instead of companions in the fight for opportunity.
"Every day, our politics fuels and exploits this kind of division across all races and regions; across gender and party. It is played out on television. It is sensationalized by the media. And last week, it even crept into the campaign for President, with charges and counter-charges that served to obscure the issues instead of illuminating the critical choices we face as a nation."
Barack spoke to a Black and Christian audience about homophobia, anti-Semitism and anti-immigrant hysteria. That’s something that no other presidential candidate has either the courage or vision to do. When it comes down to it, this speech perfectly embodies for me why we need Barack as our next president.Pam Spalding, Pam's House Blend:
These words are so necessary, but you can best believe he is the only candidate delivering speeches in honor of Dr. King who is willing to say it directly to members of the black community. This topic has always been a perceived as a third rail topic for the other leading Dem candidates, Clinton or Edwards -- they are, like many whites, particularly if they see themselves as allies, dread being seen as pointing out the evils and hypocrisy of such bigotry in the black faith community, even as wrong and tragic as it is on its face.
I am of two minds of this -- I am grateful that Barack Obama, whose campaign has needed to atone for the triangulation strategy of courting blacks by tossing gays under the bus with the appearance of homophobic "ex-gay" advocate Donnie McClurkin at a gospel concert. He has made public statements distancing himself from this flap and reiterated support for LGBT equality (sans full marriage equality, of course, something none of the top tier have supported).
However, I am disheartened by the burden Obama has been saddled with, as a person of color, to be the sole party delivering today's message. Addressing bigotry in any community that has suffered oppression at the hands of the majority can, and must be done, particularly in a year where we have both a woman and a black man with a credible chance of winning the nomination and making it to the White House.
UPDATE: CREW has produced a report analyzing the major national news events that were going on around the dates of the missing White House emails.
UPDATE II: Marcy Wheeler has more.
Senators need to ask Kevin O'Connor, nominee to be third-ranking offical at Justice, about his abuse of the Patriot Act with librarians
O'Connor not only lost the case, he made a mockery of the proceeding. Read the op-ed. O'Connor fits the mold of a loyal Bushie who has no regard for civil liberties. We've had enough of those types.
The test of whether an official is worthy of power is how he exercises it when the law shuts out public scrutiny. Connecticut U.S. Attorney Kevin O'Connor failed that test in 2005 when he thought no one was looking at his abuse of the USA Patriot Act. His own incompetence, however, allowed light to shine on his battle in the shadows against four upright Connecticut librarians.
The U.S. Senate can take a stand for individual liberty by rejecting President Bush's nomination of O'Connor to a high-ranking position in the Justice Department that includes overseeing the enforcement of civil rights.
The Bush administration will cut counterterrorism money for police, firefighters
and rescue departments next year...
So where is the coordinated Democratic campaign to destroy the Republicans over this incredible mistake? To forever brand them as a party weak on terror?
I don't want to hear anymore about how you don't have a big enough majority in the House or Senate. You just got handed a gift from God. What you plan to do with it will speak volumes about whether you deserve to remain in office.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Update: Guess who met with automakers just before the EPA denied the waiver. Coincidence, non?
Invoking executive privilege, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency refused to provide lawmakers Friday with a full explanation of why it rejected California’s greenhouse gas regulations.
The EPA informed Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., that many of the documents she had requested contained internal deliberations or attorney-client communications that would not be shared with Congress.
“EPA is concerned about the chilling effect that would occur if agency employees believed their frank and honest opinions and analysis expressed as part of assessing California’s waiver request were to be disclosed in a broad setting,” EPA Associate Administrator Christopher Bliley wrote.
More than a week after a deadline set by Boxer, the agency gave the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which she chairs, a box of papers with large portions of the relevant documents deleted, Boxer said. The documents omitted key details, including a presentation that, according to Senate aides, predicted EPA would lose a lawsuit if it was taken to court for denying California’s waiver.
The refusal to provide a full explanation is the latest twist in a congressional investigation into why the EPA denied California permission to impose what would have been the country’s toughest greenhouse gas standards on cars, trucks and sport utility vehicles.
LSB: We don't need to guess. It's the same asshole that believes his office shouldn't fall under ANY Congressional oversight - because he really isn't a part of the Executive Branch. One year from today, one year from today, one year from today,...
The FBI has been accused of covering up a key case file detailing evidence against corrupt government officials and their dealings with a network stealing nuclear secrets.
The assertion follows allegations made in The Sunday Times two weeks ago by Sibel Edmonds, an FBI whistleblower, who worked on the agency’s investigation of the network.[...]
One of the documents relating to the case was marked 203A-WF-210023. Last week, however, the FBI responded to a freedom of information request for a file of exactly the same number by claiming that it did not exist. But The Sunday Times has obtained a document signed by an FBI official showing the existence of the file.
Edmonds believes the crucial file is being deliberately covered up by the FBI because its contents are explosive. She accuses the agency of an “outright lie”.[...]
The anonymous letter names a high-level government official who was allegedly secretly recorded speaking to an official at the Turkish embassy between August and December 2001.
It claims the government official warned a Turkish member of the network that they should not deal with a company called Brewster Jennings because it was a CIA front company investigating the nuclear black market. The official’s warning came two years before Brewster Jennings was publicly outed when one of its staff, Valerie Plame, was revealed to be a CIA agent in a case that became a cause célèbre in the US.
Scooter was right… all those aspen roots are connected. And they are definitely turning. The problem lies with whether those charged with oversight will actually do their jobs.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Time Warner will begin testing the new billing plan in Texas. Last year Comcast admitted to throttling the broadband signal of its users that were transferring large amounts of data.
Under the experiment, TWC will offer customers four tiers of service starting with an introductory level that allows users to download 5 gigabytes of data per month, and steps up to 10, 20 and 40-gigabyte plans, a source said.
Connection speeds rise with the size of plan. Users who exceed their allotted data plan would be charged a still undetermined metered rate. A company rep said the average user will see no meaningful change in the speed of their connection or the amount of data they download per month. The heaviest downloaders are said to represent 5 percent of the company's user base, but can hog as much as half of the available bandwidth.
LSB: I don't wanna sound like Chicken Little ("the sky is falling, the sky is falling"), but could this be the start of a trend among all of the ISPs? I fear it might... and with it the beginning of the downfall of the Internet? Bush and his lapdog Congress have been feeding at the trough of the telecom companies for so long that the telecom companies want payback. Limited competition and retro-active immunity for their traitorous acts to the U.S. public are just the start. Through an astronomical number of fees collected each month, surely the telecom companies have collected enough money to lay fiber-optic cables coast-to-coast many times over - enough so that the "download problem" shouldn't be a problem. If this is about the property rights of music and film companies - a legitimate concern, - then come up with the technology or a different business model for that. I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy what the telecoms are trying to sell us anymore. They lie more than the politicians. This is nothing more than a money grab, pure and simple, before the crooks leave town.
Clinton was to appear in Vogue as the presidential race reached high gear, but backed out late last fall before a photo shoot was scheduled for fear of appearing too alluring. New York Post columnist Liz Smith reported Nov. 1 that "the astute [Vogue contributing editor] Julia Reed hung ten waiting to write about her and the giant fotog Annie Leibovitz had her cameras at the ready for nothing."
A Vogue spokesman confirmed: "We were told by Ms. Clinton's camp that they were concerned if Clinton appeared in Vogue that she would appear too feminine." (Clearly, though, the presidential candidate didn't worry about that when she cried in New Hampshire.)
But Wintour didn't take Clinton's dis lightly. In her February editor's letter, Wintour takes Clinton to task for being behind the times. "Imagine my amazement, then, when I learned that Hillary Clinton, our only female president hopeful, had decided to steer clear of our pages at this point in her campaign for fear of looking too feminine. The notion that a contemporary woman must look mannish in order to be taken seriously as a seeker of power is frankly dismaying."
Wintour continues: "This is America, not Saudi Arabia. It's also 2008: Margaret Thatcher may have looked terrific in a blue power suit, but that was 20 years ago. I do think Americans have moved on from the power-suit mentality, which served as a bridge for a generation of women to reach boardrooms filled with men. Political campaigns that do not recognize this are making a serious misjudgment."
Calls and e-mails to the Clinton camp went unreturned as of press time.
Vogue has featured Sen. Clinton with her family and by herself in sizeable features six times since 1992, and she was the first first lady to appear on the magazine's cover, in December 1998.
Despite Wintour's lashing, bridges have not been permanently burned: Vogue's spokesman said the magazine and the Clintons are "working on something together for Vogue in the near future."
A presidential cover in January 2009, perhaps?
Scholars & Rogues: The American Prospect’s Harold Meyerson has an op-ed in the Washington Post today outlining the nature of the coming recession, and how our economic response is going to have to change if we’re to fix it.
“Wait,” you’re thinking, “is he saying we’re in recession? Surely not! I know it’s a worry, but no one’s actually said it’s official yet.”
Let’s take a look at the facts, then:
- Citigroup, America’s largest bank, has been hit with a staggering $10 billion in losses this quarter. Naturally, the company is doing what all companies do as a first response to crisis–cutting thousands of jobs–and is begging foreign investors to pump cash into its reserves to keep it solvent.
- Countrywide, America’s largest lender, reported spikes in delinquencies and foreclosures so severe that the company was looking at bankruptcy protection. It was hailed as a relief when Bank of America announced plans to buy the lender, but think about this–how bad is our economic state when our biggest giants in their respective industries are doing so poorly?
- And what about the consumer, that bulwark of economic growth through spending? Well, thanks to a combination of collapsing home equity, high gas, energy, and food prices, and nearly insurmountable personal debt, consumers are falling behind on loan payments, credit card debt is on the rise, and retail sales are plummeting from lack of consumer spending.
If this isn’t a recession, it’s damn close, and like the wolf hungrily stalking its prey, will be upon us soon.
Back to Meyerson’s column. He accurately notes that the mazelike structures of current Wall Street investment strategies make it nigh-impossible to accurately oversee these transactions, which has led to so many billions of dollars’ worth of losses. Moreover, he also notes that without some serious infusion of jobs, cash, and direction from the government, this recession may deepen into a depression that will take years to recover from.
“Okay,” you may be asking, “but where can we get the money for such a thing? That’s going to be expensive!”
Well, here’s one simple idea–ending the war in Iraq immediately and bringing our troops home. Imagine what we could do with the influx of capital we’re wasting on a failed venture that has cost thousands of lives and tens of millions of dollars.
I live in DC, so I used my own city as the basis for calculation. Taxpayers in District Of Columbia will pay $2 billion for the cost of the Iraq War through 2007. For the same amount of money, the following could have been provided:
- 504,157 People with Health Care OR
- 3,465,229 Homes with Renewable Electricity OR
- 33,815 Public Safety Officers OR
- 33,333 Music and Arts Teachers OR
- 946,048 Scholarships for University Students OR
- 174 New Elementary Schools OR
- 6,801 Affordable Housing Units OR
- 620,958 Children with Health Care OR
- 266,133 Head Start Places for Children OR
- 33,333 Elementary School Teachers OR
- 29,432 Port Container Inspectors
Any one of these projects provides a golden opportunity for new jobs and economic revitalization for my city, or the even better long-term investment of raising kids with decent educations and the ability to make better lives for themselves. But we’ll never know, because that money went instead to turning a country into a protectorate of our empire just to keep the oil pumps working.
I said not long ago that in order to win, Democrats should run on the economy instead of Iraq, and I still hold to that. But I am rethinking that approach–instead of trying to push Iraq aside in people’s minds, Democrats and progressives should link the two together. Every dollar spent in Iraq, fighting a war started on a lie that has cost us immeasurably, is a dollar not spent on rebuilding our country’s prosperity, peace, and future solvency.
End the war, bring our troops home, and let’s get down to the equally painful business of rebuilding our country’s economic base and transiting us out from a system based on debt, consumption, greed, and graft. We’ve done it before, and we can do it again. We don’t have any choice in the matter.
LSB: And just image what could have been purchased with the nearly $500 BILLION that has already been sunk in Iraq? And what about those 4000 young men and women who died in Iraq - what might have contributed to our country? All of this was purchased with a lie! Like Susan Powder, I think we have to STOP THE MADNESS!
But far too many remain for our own good.
Along with the handful of presidential candidates who dropped out so far, voters might be better served if a hundred or so of my political-reporter and pundit colleagues dropped out as well – and were replaced by journalists whose beats are about national security, economics, environment and health care.
For our coverage has not been serving the public interest by providing the sort of information voters really need to know – especially in the last weeks when many voters make their decisions.
Much of the blame goes to the editors who apparently are satisfied with the sort of poll-driven horse-race journalism that we have gotten in the final weeks.
Political journalists are a unique breed within our craft. Their job (as assigned by their editors) is to cover contests in which the contestants debate a wide range of vital issues – subjects about which the journalists who cover them have no expertise. So when the candidates are proposing their detailed plans for the economy or the war or health care or global warming, the journalists who cover the candidates rarely ask informed, penetrating follow-up questions. (Unless they are fed these questions by an opposing candidate's issues specialists.)
But occasionally, a news organization and its editors rise to the occasion and get it right. Which is what The New York Times did on Wednesday, Jan. 2, the day before the Iowa caucuses and six days before the New Hampshire primary. The Times had dispatched to the campaign trail Washington correspondent Michael R. Gordon, whose reputation has nothing to do with political journalism but who is a top Pentagon correspondent and co-author of a much-praised book on the Iraq war.
He interviewed former Sen. John Edwards about just how the North Carolina Democrat will fulfill his campaign promise to end the war in Iraq. His in-depth questions led Edwards to provide his most detailed explanation yet: He intends to withdraw within 10 months virtually all U.S. troops, including those who are training Iraqi forces and police.
And the newspaper had the good sense to play the news on its front page, right where we usually see those campaign horse-race stories.
But that, unfortunately, was the exception in a week in which America's news media – such as the prime-time TV network news, the nonstop cable news and, of course, the front pages of virtually all U.S. newspapers – were dominated by stories covering every nit and nuance about Sen. Barack Obama's surge in Iowa and New Hampshire, not the U.S. military's surge in Iraq.
Indeed, on Tuesday, the day of the New Hampshire primary, The Washington Post's lead editorial focused on the Democratic presidential candidates and the surge in Iraq. "Why do the Democratic candidates refuse to acknowledge progress in Iraq?" asked the sub-headline above the editorial. Perhaps the editors at the Post should have been asking each other why they had not sent their paper's defense-policy experts out to the campaign trail to grill the candidates and inform the public about just that.
Actually, The Washington Post has done some fine campaign journalism this year – from national correspondent Michael Dobbs and his team of researchers, who produce a series titled, "The Fact Checker." It regularly compares candidate statements with the truth – and reports to us when the candidates are lying, deceiving or exaggerating.
After Saturday night's New Hampshire debates, "The Fact Checker" reported five short and direct stories. Among them:
- That Republican Mike Huckabee "was simply wrong" in saying he had supported President Bush's Iraq war policy before Mitt Romney did – and that he supported the surge while Romney did not.
- That Romney made an assertion that was "untrue" in saying his campaign ad had never accused John McCain of favoring "amnesty" for illegal immigrants – his ad said just that.
- And that Hillary Clinton was "exaggerating her role in extending health-care benefits to National Guard members."
The Washington Post played those little stories on page A6. Voters would be better served if every news outlet gave Page One or prime-time coverage to each of these stories. And who knows? Perhaps the candidates might stop – or at least curb – their lying, deceiving and exaggerating.
Perhaps even politicians can be paper-trained.
Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) lambasted Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) Thursday for “betraying” the conservative movement.
During a private luncheon with Republican chiefs of staff on Capitol Hill, DeLay — who has criticized McCain for years — stepped up his attacks in the wake of the senator’s reemergence as a top presidential contender. DeLay said McCain has no principles and indicated he would not endorse the senator if he won the GOP primary.“
If McCain gets the nomination, I don’t know what I’ll do,” DeLay said at the Capitol Hill Club, according to a source in the room. “I might have to sit this one out.”
He added that a McCain triumph for the GOP nomination would destroy the Republican Party.
On one level, this certainly makes the McCain nomination more appealing. And, it's actually comical to hear Tom DeLay say someone else has no principles.
Making coded appeals to white racism is nothing new for Huckabee. Indeed, well before he was a nationally known political star, Huckabee nurtured a relationship with America's largest white supremacist group, the Council of Conservative Citizens. The extent of Huckabee's interaction with the racist group is unclear, but this much is known: he accepted an invitation to speak at the group's annual conference in 1993 and ultimately delivered a videotaped address that was "extremely well received by the audience."
Descended from the White Citizens Councils that battled integration in the Jim Crow South, including at Arkansas' Little Rock High School, the Council (or CofCC) has been designated a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
In its "Statement of Principles," the CofCC declares, "We also oppose all efforts to mix the races of mankind, to promote non-white races over the European-American people through so-called "affirmative action" and similar measures, to destroy or denigrate the European-American heritage, including the heritage of the Southern people, and to force the integration of the races."
The CofCC has hosted several conservative Republican legislators at its conferences, including former Representative Bob Barr of Georgia and Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi. But mostly it has been a source of embarrassment to Republicans hoping to move their party beyond its race-baiting image. Former Reagan speechwriter and conservative pundit Peggy Noonan pithily declared that anyone involved with the CofCC "does not deserve to be in a leadership position in America." (More)
BANKS: (Reading a question ) "I am a lesbian and my partner of 20 years is sick. She can't afford her medical expenses and because we are not legally married, my policy won't cover her. How can you help us?"
HRC: I believe that if you are in a committed relationship, you ought to be able to have your benefits go to that person, or to anyone else. Suppose you are living with your brother and you want him to have your benefits. He wants you to have your benefits. Suppose you are taking care of and living with your mother. If you are in a committed relationship, no matter what that relationship is.
BANKS: Woman, woman, man, man, it doesn't matter.
HRC: That's right. I believe the benefits are yours and you ought to be able to give them and pass them on to whomever you choose. Also, as we begin to see different states making these decisions, civil unions, domestic partners and, marriage, the federal government ought to make all of the benefits through Social Security and other programs available to any legally recognized relationship and I intend to do that.
Friday, January 18, 2008
The list includes Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, and China. But surprisingly, it also included the United States, Guantanamo Bay, and Israel.
It notes specific “U.S. interrogation techniques,” which include “forced nudity, isolation, and sleep deprivation.” The U.S. has repeatedly denied allegations by international groups that it tortures prisoners captured in places like Afghanistan and Iraq. However, U.S. officials have refused to comment on the Canadian list.
Stocks dropped sharply on Thursday as a plunge in regional factory activity and a hefty loss at Merrill Lynch further clouded an increasingly dire view of the economy. The Dow Jones industrial average (DJI) was down 307.03 points, or 2.46 percent, to end unofficially at 12,159.13.Yesterday, we learned that food prices had their largest rise since 1990 (back when the other Bush was President):
Inflation truly hit home in 2007 with food prices rising 4.9 percent, the most since 1990, as energy costs for farmers surged and the production of crops, livestock and dairy products failed to keep pace with increased global demand.
Aren't you comforted to know that Bush is finally admitted the economy is in trouble -- and that he's going to fix it? We're so screwed.
This happened on Bush's watch. He'll try, but he can't blame anyone else.
Chris in Paris, AmericaBlog.com: Tim-ber! Has he ever *not* made a mess with his plans? The reverse Midas touch strikes again. Maybe Cheney could update us all on the economy instead of looking as though he's at a funeral in the background. Bush patsy Paulson isn't looking much better though I suspect his years at Goldman taught him enough to know how badly they ruined everything. Where's the big talk about the US economy being so "resilient" now? Wrong once again.
LSB: So much for religious tolerance. Apparently religious choice only applies if you're an Evangelical. I hardly recognize my country these days, at least the one where I grew up and was taught tolerance.
The Associated Press began preparing Britney Spears’ obituary within the past mnth, Usmagazine.com has learned.
"We are not wishing it, but if Britney passed away, it’s easily one of the biggest stories in a long time," AP entertainment editor Jesse Washington tells Us.
"I think one would agree that Britney seems at risk right now," Washington adds. "Of course, we would never wish any type of misfortune on anybody and hope that we would never have to use it until 50 years from now…but if something were to happen, we would have to be prepared."
Thursday, January 17, 2008
While the overall loss is a tiny fraction of the miles-deep ice that covers much of Antarctica, scientists said the new finding is important because the continent holds about 90 percent of Earth's ice, and until now, large-scale ice loss there had been limited to the peninsula that juts out toward the tip of South America. In addition, researchers found that the rate of ice loss in the affected areas has accelerated over the past 10 years -- as it has on most glaciers and ice sheets around the world.
"Without doubt, Antarctica as a whole is now losing ice yearly, and each year it's losing more," said Eric Rignot, lead author of a paper published online in the journal Nature Geoscience. (More)
LSB: No doubt Sen. Inhofe (R-OK) and the "global warming is a hoax" crowd will dispute this news. Why does the GOP hate science?
Some of the comments at ThinkProgress.org:
The White House has acknowledged recycling its backup computer tapes of e-mail before October 2003, raising the possibility that many electronic messages — including those pertaining to the CIA leak case — have been taped over and are gone forever.
The disclosure came minutes before midnight Tuesday under a court-ordered deadline that forced the White House to reveal information it has previously refused to provide. […]
If the e-mails were not saved, the White House might have violated two laws requiring preservation of documents that fall into the categories of federal records or presidential records.
- Cover-up. What does the WH have to hide?
- Its nice to see the WH has a recycling policy.
- Uh-oh… looks like someone’s going to get a sternly-worded letter…
- Those tapes are expensive. Gotta balance the budget somehow!
- The Dem’s aren’t going to do a damn thing about it except let the clock run out, my guess many of them are not just enabeler’s but just as guilty..
- Wow ! Someone in the WH staff came up with a very clever idea. Guess all the sharp pencils haven’t left yet.
- So the next question should be, “Who made the decision to reuse the tapes?” Of course, nobody will remember… My best hope is that the person who is ultimately picked to be thrown under the bus for this one will decide it’s not worth protecting these criminals, and start talking fast and furious. In this instance, conditional immunity might be a worthy consideration, if it leads up the ladder quickly.
- Erased tapes. Where have I heard that one before? Will we get pictures of Nixon’s secretary again.
- Interesting thing is that the way the WH’s admission that it “re-used” tapes is an absolute admission that not only did it violate the law — it did so with the intent required to prompt a criminal investigation. After all, in this era of high computer technology, who reuses tapes or discs or other recordable media instead of using new ones — unless they’re (a) too poor to afford new ones, or (b) trying to cover up something that’s on the originals?
Just get it over with — throw these crooks in jail so we can get on with restoring our country.
- Gee, that’s exactly what happened to all the records of the Presidential election in Ohio in 2004. What an incredible coincidence!
- Don’t our patriotic friends over at AT&T have all the needed e-mails? They’ve been intercepting/storing all electronic traffic since early 2001 haven’t they? Maybe if we offer to pay the FBI’s bill for them they’ll let us have copies of all those missing WH e-mails. They should at least have access to the e-mails that were sent using the RNC servers.
- Impeachment is “OFF THE TABLE” because we Democrats don’t have the spine to stand up and protect our Constitution even though we swore to protect and defend it from ALL enemies Foreign and Domestic.
- Incompetence is a lousy excuse for criminal destruction of records, and it is not acceptable. There must be accountability. They have defied the law and congress, they have dissed the public - and all for their own purposes.We should not be surprised, however, not at their deliberate incompetence, nor their deliberate obstructionism, not at their defiant attitude of “so whaddya gonna do about it now?”John Dean is right - this group is far worse than Watergate/Nixon White House. Impeachment is too good for them. Criminal court is more appropriate.
- Next thing they’ll tell us is the internet is a series of tubes…