Monday, December 31, 2007

He Sings! He Dances! He Crawls on his Belly Like a Reptile!

In a surprise move, Mike Huckabee said today that he won't air negative ads against Mitt Romney.

Claiming that he changed his mind this morning, Huckabee told reporters gathered in anticipation of seeing the spots that he would no longer attack Romney off the air, either, and would run a positive campaign in the final days before the caucuses.


However, he made his remarks in front of placards with still shots of a negative ad he had worked up for Mitt Romney and then showed the ad to all the reporters present. He said he only did it because otherwise they wouldn’t have believed him that he actually had a negative ad ready to roll.

Score one for the Huckster, eh?

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Record Year

The 899 deaths [of US soldiers in Iraq] in 2007 surpassed the previously highest death toll in 2004, when 850 U.S. soldiers were killed.


We don’t know how many civilian contractors or how many Iraqis have been killed this year, nor whether it’s more or less than any of the nearly five years since we freed them from Saddam Hussein and brought them democracy.

Extraordinary Rendition

For years, unnamed government officials have acknowledged that they use “extraordinary renditions” to send suspects to other countries to be tortured. Our ally Egypt is a favorite destination of such flights. Now, videos of Egyptian torture have forced Americans to see what such “special treatment” is like for suspects. In one video, a woman is forced to strip and is abused by a police officer and in another Egyptian mini-bus driver, Emad el-Kabir, 21,l is shown screaming on the floor as officers sodomize him with a wooden pole. The police then sent the video to el-Kabir’s friends to humiliate him. These videos remove the abstract quality of the debate over U.S. torture policies, both in terms of waterboarding and extraordinary renditions.


These are the same individuals who handle our own torture needs through extraordinary renditions.

  Jonathan Turley

Saturday, December 29, 2007

There's Still Hope

Bush on New Year’s: “This weekend is a good time to give thanks for our blessings -- and to resolve to do better in the coming year.” Bush could spend all of 2008 lighting his farts and still do better than in any other year of his life.



All in the Family: More Bhutto Intrigue

December 14, 2007:

There are deep divisions within the Bhutto family. In 1996, Mir Murtaza Bhutto, Benazir's younger brother and her political opponent, was brutally gunned down just steps from his house in Karachi, while his sister was the prime minister.

The authorities claimed he died in a police shootout with his body guards, but the public -- depending on whom you talk to -- point fingers at Benazir and her husband Asif ali Zardari.


Fatima is Murtaza's eldest daughter. A graduate of Columbia University, the 25-year-old spends her days writing and campaigning against her aunt, who, she says, is "one of the most corrupt leaders the world has seen."

Many Pakistanis see Fatima as an alternative to Benazir, a serious challenger in the coming years and the rightful heir to the country's most powerful political dynasty.


"Part of the problem with Pakistani politics is that an entire nation has been held hostage to a very few, who treat politics like it's a family business. We need the field to open up so that is why I am not running."

  PBS Frontline/World

Because….your mother is not part of the family???

Fatima Bhutto campaigning for
her mother in Pakistan's Sindh province.

The questions and accusations grow as elections draw closer. Before I leave she tells me that she is worried about what Benazir's return means for the country. "Her legacy as a two-time prime minister is a legacy of gross corruption. She is estimated to have stolen $1.5 to $3 billion from the Pakistani treasury. It's one of state violence..."

When I ask Fatima if a reconciliation is in the cards, her response is a vehement, "No."

"Benazir needs to be tried in court for the crimes that she has committed. We do not see eye to eye on anything and we do not subscribe to her distorted version of democracy."

It would seem there are many places to look for the agent of Ms. Bhutto's death.

And Speaking of Torture

In 1946, the United States prosecuted two Justice Department lawyers for a peculiar crime. They had written memoranda which, in disregard of international law, facilitated the torture and abuse of prisoners. They were sentenced to ten years in prison, less time served. That was in the days when the Justice Department lived up to its name. The case is called United States v. Altstoetter. It would be a good case for Michael Mukasey to read; his underlings could benefit from a reading, too, since the time is approaching when it’s going to have some direct impact in their own lives.


At least the Senate Democrats did one thing right. Jim Webb went in over the Christmas holiday for 10 seconds to call to order an empty room. But that prevented a recess and a recess appointment by Bush of the man he wants to make permanent head of the Office of Legal Counsel, Steven Bradbury. Bradbury is the guy who was installed as "acting" head to replace Daniel Levin when Gonzales took over. Daniel Levin, it seems, had begun to question waterboarding.

Too bad the Dems couldn't have found someone willing to keep recess at bay all the other many times Bush pulled that stunt.

....but hey, Clinton did it, too. (Score: Clinton, 139. Bush - in his first six years - 167.)

Friday, December 28, 2007

Can We Just Arrest 'Em?

A group in Brattleboro [Vermont - where it's legal to go around nude, but probably not comfortable right now] is petitioning to put an item on a town meeting agenda in March that would make Bush and Vice President Cheney subject to arrest and indictment if they visit the southeastern Vermont community.

  Raw Story

Well, it has a nice ring to it.

....and hey, do what you will anyway.

Ann Telnaes (Click cartoons for larger view)

… the sequence of statements out of the White House is extremely revealing. It started with firm denials, then went silent and then pulled back rather sharply to a “President Bush has no present recollection of having seen the tapes.” This is a formulation frequently used to avoid perjury charges, a sort of way of saying “no” without really saying “no.”


John Kiriakou clarified his statements about the purpose for which the tapes were made. It was to brief higher ups about the process of the interrogation. Reports persist that one “higher-up” in particular had a special strong interest in knowing the details of the Abu Zubaydah case. His name is George W. Bush.

  War In Context

No recollection. I can't remember if I've ever watched any torture videos, either. Who wouldn't forget such an experience?

Huckabee: Be Very Afraid

"We ought to have an immediate, very clear monitoring of our borders and particularly to make sure if there's any unusal activity of Pakistanis coming into the country. We just need to be very, very thorough in looking at every aspect of our own security internally because, again, we live in a very, very dangerous time," Huckabee said during a news conference Thursday night in West Des Moines.

  Radio Iowa

Now he’s afraid specifically of murderers coming in hordes from Pakistan. How stupid. They didn’t come streaming in after the earlier failed attack on Bhutto that killed 136. Pakistan didn’t just now become a center of terrorist activity.

Fear-mongering. Generalized profiling. Fascism.

Huckabee called Bhutto's death is a tragedy, but he suggested she had been a threat to Islamic fundamentalists. "An educated, sophisticated, strong, capable woman leader -- that does pose a threat to those who don't believe that women should be given that platform and that level of equality," Huckabee said.

Not-so-subliminal message: if Hillary is elected, we can expect terrorist attacks here.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Bhutto Assassination

On November 2, 2007, David Frost interviewed Benazir Bhutto, at which time she says she had sent a letter to Musharraf telling him where to look if she were to be assassinated, naming individuals who might be financing the extremists carrying out the suicide bombings.

What is very strange is that she casually mentions Omar Sheikh as "the man who murdered Osama Bin Laden."

Bloggers and blog readers are discussing it a-plenty, with many suggesting she made a slip and meant to say Daniel Pearl. But how strange that she doesn't notice what she's said, nor does David Frost bat an eye. Was he listening to what she was saying? (The entire interview is here, and it's never mentioned again or cleared up.)

I would think there might have been some news agencies digging into it or even a follow-up on the Frost show after surely some viewers wrote in or called, or an editor noticed it, but I can't find anything.

What's that all about?


Pakistani police abandoned their protective posts before Bhutto was shot.

Report from a McClatchy special correspondent at the scene:

Three to five shots were fired at her, witnesses said. She was hit in the neck and slumped back in the vehicle. Blood poured from her head, and she never regained consciousness. Moments after the shooting, there was a huge explosion to the left of the vehicle.


Police officers had frisked the 3,000 to 4,000 people attending Thursday's rally when they entered the park, but as the speakers from Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party droned on, the police abandoned many of their posts. As she drove out through the gate, her main protection appeared to be her own bodyguards, who wore their usual white T-shirts inscribed: "Willing to die for Benazir."


There is now a new official report on Bhutto’s death, claiming she died from hitting her head on her car, rather than from being shot. No autopsy was performed. CNN’s Ken Robinson suggests that is a political ploy to try to deny her a martyr’s death.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Jesus Christ, Part 3

From TJ at POAC:

Due to the rise in religious rhetoric coming from the Republican candidates, I've been aggressively promoting The 15% Solution: A Political History of American Fascism, 2001 to 2022. This book was written in 1996 and documents what the religious right was saying in the 80's and 90's and how it's being implemented now. This book is invaluable as a historical resource and as a testament to what we're seeing come to fruition. The promotion was a success, and we only have three copies left. Fortunately, I was able to secure another shipment of books directly from the author and will continue the promotion until they are gone. If you are interested, the price is still $14.95, marked down from $29.95 until we sell out. Which won't take long. You can buy a copy here.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.


Tom Toles (Click the picture for a larger view.)

Jesus Christ, Part 2

[Brad] Stine's "GodMen" conferences aim to get men to "act like men": According to OneNewsNow, "Stine argues that many men are tired of what he calls a 'sugar-coated and watered-down' Christianity. To counter that, he says, the one-day 'GodMen' events challenge men to embrace the full character of Christ. He cites the example of what he describes as the 'table-tipping Jesus.'"

"[That's] the strong Jesus that really deals with masculinity, [an aspect] that men are oftentimes not taught," Stine explained. "We're taught one side of Jesus."

  Media Transparency

This guy's a comedian.

No, really. Well, that's how he's billed. And, seriously, I haven't noticed "Christian" men having any problem being aggressive, which Mr. Stine is trying to call "masculine".

Stine states, "The wussification of America is killing us by teaching us to censor ourselves from what we believe. That's why I want to see political correctness die in my lifetime, but first...I want to watch it suffer."


Paul Coughlin, the author of "No More Christian Nice Guy" and a keynote speaker at a GodMen event in Nashville, Tennessee last year said, "I believe that being a guy is a reason to be proud -- not a problem to be fixed. Unfortunately, most Christian men have been ordered to emulate 'Gentle Jesus Meek ands Mild,' a false caricature of Christ that has robbed the church of its vital masculine energy."


Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., the president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary -- the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world -- wrote that "The Christian church is experiencing a crisis with men... The church has been feminized in style and the manly virtues are depreciated. Christianity -- a faith predicated on truths for which brave men were willing to die -- has been transformed into a spirituality of mere feeling."


GodMen is "a place where men can discuss real issues such as passivity, isolation, and pornography 'in a safe environment.' The events, which include worship, have powerful sound systems and huge video screens showing he-man videos like martial arts displays and car chases."

Yes, what we really need is more tough-guys in this world.

Passivity, isolation and...pornography??? GodMen need a safe place to discuss pornography.

You know where all this anti-feminism, he-man shit goes. Violence against women. And, as I've said before, we're skating down the road to the dark ages.

Stine's new CD is, not surprisingly, called "Wussification". Should be a big hit in the Bible Belt.

Recorded live at The Clarion at Brazosport College in Lake Jackson, TX. [ed. next door to Galveston], his website describes the CD as "a no-holds-barred laugh riot that attacks political correctness at every turn. From lambasting witches for being over-sensitive to Brad's frustration with Christianity's own form of political correctness, Stine once again infuses his one of a kind style of comedy with equal inspiration for his Christian tribe in an album that is guaranteed to become a classic."


Stine has appeared on several stand-up comedy shows including A&E's "Evening at the Improv" and MTV's "Half Hour Comedy Hour," and has been a guest on a number of news programs including FOX News' "Hannity & Colmes," CNN's "Paula Zahn NOW" and "Glenn Beck," and the NBC Nightly News. He has also been interviewed on National Public Radio and has been featured on and in Newsweek, the New Yorker, USA Today, and several other newspapers nationwide.

He was a featured performer for Promise Keepers in 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2007.

Oh, Lordy.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Jesus Christ

Robed Greek Orthodox and Armenian priests went at each other with brooms and stones inside the Church of the Nativity on Thursday as long-standing rivalries erupted in violence during holiday cleaning.


[T]he cleanup turned ugly after some of the Orthodox faithful stepped inside the Armenian church's section, touching off a scuffle between about 50 Greek Orthodox and 30 Armenians.


Four people, some with blood running from their faces, were slightly wounded.


The basilica, built over the grotto in Bethlehem where Christians believe Jesus was born, is administered jointly by Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic authorities. Any perceived encroachment on one group's turf can set off vicious feuds.


A typical benefit of organized religion.

Often it does seem a pity that Noah and his party did not miss the boat. --Mark Twain

Appropo of nothing, but the pleasure of a chuckle (so many of the people who come in to the lab do their utmost to make life miserable for the staff - much of the clientele is on the skids - it's a free lab), a little boy trying to play a game on a computer at work today needed some help typing his birthday in the correct format. I asked for his birthday, and he told me May 25. When I asked him what year he was born, he went silent. So I asked how old he was.

"Nine," he said.

So I said, "1998. Does that sound right?"

"I don't remember," he replied; "I was a baby."

Further On Bhutto Assassination

A friend of Benazir Bhutto makes a good point: the killing was not a normal suicide bombing, because the killer made a point to shoot Ms. Bhutto first. The implication is that it was a government hit (making use of fanatics) disguised to look like a terrorist suicide bombing. I'd guess it could well be, and in fact, my jaded nature says that's most likely.

It also could be that, the previous suicide bombing attempt at killing her having failed, they decided the bombing part alone was not guarantee enough. Either way, it's not a simple terrorist attack on a group of innocent people; it's a winning situation for Musharraf.

Nawaz Sharif picks up Bhutto's torch, and George Bush claims it was the work of "cowardly extremists".

Hat tip to TPM, which also reports that a group of Sharif supporters took sniper fire earlier today, making it all the more suspicious.

But We Digress

Recently on another blog someone was complaining that something smacked of returning us to a previous, more unenlightened past, and I suggested that many things in the past decade or so have indicated that we are returning to a Victorian era "morality".

Fred Thompson would like to be our leader into that past.

Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson on Wednesday teased Democratic candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton, saying "there is no woman on the horizon that ought to be president next year."

  Raw Story

He wasn’t teasing.

The former Tennessee senator was challenging potential caucus-goers to choose the best man to help fend off what he described as an assault by a Democratic Party that is "just salivating" to lead the country into a welfare state.

"Who are we going to set on the road — what man are we going to set on the road — to lead us and to stand against this assault?" he asked, emphasizing the word 'man.' He couched his comments by saying "I say the word man advisedly. Now I've got a daughter that's going to be president some day, I know it, and I am all for a woman president, just not this year, not next year

Not in his lifetime, bub.

Just salivating to lead us into a welfare state. That ought to scare a bunch of idiots.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Benazir Bhutto - Assassinated

Exiled, returned. Blocked from participating. Musharraf then called down an 'emergency' lockdown of the country, imprisoned opponents and protestors. Lifted martial law when international pressure became too great and promised he'd allow the elections to go on. But apparently, someone just couldn't take the chance that he might lose anything. Bhutto was shot and killed today at a political rally, along with 20 other people.

**The Yahoo report was sloppy. Apparently, it was a suicide bombing. When she'd returned from exile, a suicide bomber managed to kill 136 people gathered to receive her. Taliban will get the blame, not Musharraf. Terrorists come in handy when you need them. Ask George.

******Okay, I'm sorry. It appears that, sloppiness notwithstanding, Bhutto was shot first, and then the suicide bomber blew himself up.


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

House Resolution 847

You won't believe this one.

On second thought, you probably will be scandalized, but not surprised.

Guns and Money: Where Does It Go?

In Afghanistan. Courtesy of our good friends DynCorp and Blackwater. To the tune of $28.4 million in money and U.S. government-issued property, including armored cars and guns. That's a little more than 20 percent of the government property held by those two companies.

And just for fun, DynCorp also bought millions of dollars worth of pick-up trucks and motorcycles on the taxpayers' account.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Christmas in Fallujah

Christmas In Fallujah - Cass Dillon

It's evening in the desert
I'm tired and I'm cold
But I am just a soldier
I do what I am told
We came with the crusaders
To save the Holy Land

It's Christmas in Fallujah
And no one gives a damn

And I just got your letter
And this what I read
You said I'm fading from your memory
So I'm just as good as dead
We are the Armies of the Empire
We are the Legionnaires of Rome

It's Christmas in Fallujah
And we ain't never coming home

We came to bring these people Freedom
We came to fight the Infidel
There is no justice in the desert
Because there is no God in Hell
They say Osama's in the Mountains
Deep in a cave near Pakistan
But there's a sea of blood in Baghdad
A sea of oil in the sand
Between the Tigris and Euphrates
Another day comes to an end

It's Christmas In Fallujah
Peace on Earth Goodwill to Men
It's Christmas In Fallujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
It's Christmas In Fallujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
It's Christmas In Fallujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
It's Christmas In Fallujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Merry Christmas from Fallujah
Merry Christmas from Fallujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Written by Billy Joel, based on phrases from soldiers' letters. Video at Fox.

You Can Never Retire

Always remember don't really own your home.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Boise Police Academy Graduation Slogan

"Don't suffer from PTSD, go out and cause it."

Welcome to Idaho, eh?

Thompson Woos Hispanics

In Iowa, Fred Thompson agreed with a woman in the audience that it is "sickening" that so many automatic phone messages ask if you want a Spanish version. And then he went on to say that some of the blame for the sub-prime disaster was caused by immigrants who couldn't understand the terms of the loans because they didn't speak good English.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Twit Romney

The man is hopeless.

"Should God speak to you, and ask you to do something that might be in conflict with your duties as president […] how would you handle that?" reporter Natalie Jacobsen asks.

Romney laughs and then replies, "Well, I don't recall God speaking to me. I, I don't recall God speaking to anyone since, uh, Moses and the [burning] bush, or perhaps some others, but, but I don't have that frequent of communication."

  Salt Lake Tribune

As Joseph Smith, to whom God purportedly offered the new Mormon religion, spins in his grave.

I wonder if the current leader of the church, to whom God also purportedly speaks, will take away the Twit’s membership.

The Concord Monitor lays out some more problems with Twit's stability and asks its readers not to vote for him.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Jim Hightower's Xmas Gifts

Monday, December 24, 2007

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Bill Moyers

If you didn't get a chance to catch it on TV, try to watch these episodes of Bill Moyers Journal:

Sanford Levinson on a new constitutional convention.

Benjamin Barber on how American capitalism has become consumerism and is destroying democracy.*

And Bill himself sees the baseball steroid scandal as a metaphor for our national socio-political situation.

*You can donate to LifeStraw here.


Turkey is continuing its bombing missions into Iraq.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Phone Jam Tell-All

In his book, Allen Raymond says that RNC defendant, James Tobin, in the phone jamming case wouldn't likely have pulled off the illegal maneuver without getting an okay from the White House. In fact, Tobin's phone records show he made 22 calls to the White House political office in the 24 hours before and after the scheme took place.

And, coincidentally, I'm sure, his lawyer in the case is Dick Cheney's personal attorney.

Opening the Gates

Arnold Schwarnegger is thinking about releasing 20,000 inmates from California prisons to save money, begging the question: Is there a problem with the justice system in California? Should those people have been put in jail in the first place? Were their sentences too harsh? Or are they getting off easy?

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Torture Tapes & More

Now the CIA has asked the DoJ to investigate possible criminal charges against a CIA agent who discussed the waterboarding of a prisoner.

Fictitious Political History

Twit Romney claims he saw his father marching with Martin Luther King. The problem is, he didn't. And the march he's talking about may itself be fictitious.

His campaign staff now say he was "speaking figuratively." Yeah. I can say anything and then claim I was speaking figuratively.

But then why should we hold fabrication against the Twit when it's just the way things are done these days?

When future generations look back on the record of this campaign, they won't have any idea that anyone other than Hillary, Barack and John Edwards were running for the Democratic nomination. The Republican runners are still up in the air. Depends on who the media decide to cover, but certainly Ron Paul won't be noticed.

An NPR report this morning talked about the "sudden" change in standing for the "frontrunners" (Huckabee up, Romney & Giuliani down; Clinton and Obama down, Edwards "maybe" picking up). The reporter suggested that it must be that voters are just now beginning to pay attention. My suggestion is that news sources haven't yet really paid attention to voters. They're just scoping out each other's reports.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Update: It gets better. Twit says he was using the word "saw" figuratively. (Biblical, if you ask me.) He also tries shifting the blame, saying that he remembers his father telling them that he marched with King.

And in '78 he told the Boston Globe that he and his father marched with Dr. King through the streets of Detroit. Figuratively, I suppose.

Update 12/22/07: Can I get a witness? Did Twit's father march with MLK or not?


Well, we are so sorry to see Tom 'No-Foreigners-Allowed' Tancredo drop out of "the race."

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

More Huckabee

Boy, let a guy get a little boost in popularity and the stories just start streaming from the woodwork.

Reporters recall Huckabee as combative, even malicious, in response to critical coverage. He was known to attack reporters, fire off scathing e-mails to newsrooms, and complain to editors about probing questions. "I was just astounded at how vindictive he was," says Joan Duffy, who covered Huckabee for The Commercial Appeal of Memphis in the '90s. "He took it all so personally. . . . You're either with him, or you're a mortal enemy."

  The New Republic

We're accustomed to that attitude, though.

On a Roll

Reyes has now subpoenaed the CIA official purportedly responsible for destroying the "interrogation" tapes, Jose Rodriguez. Maybe the "change of mind" the CIA had about turning over documents under threat of subpoena has bolstered his confidence that he can get cooperation for testimony, too. Strike while the iron's hot, anyway.

Speaking of the Phone Jam Scam...

The guy the RNC "threw under the bus" when the phone jamming lawsuit in New Hampshire went down is punching back.

As Though Nothing Happened

Larry Craig's criminal solicitation is so not important.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

George Makes It Look So Easy

Fred Thompson has been “campaigning” in Iowa. Roger Simon covered him in Waverly. He visited a newspaper office and a fire station. The station chief offered his hat to Fred for a photo op. Fred declined.

Thompson looked at it with a sour expression on his face.

“I’ve got a silly hat rule,” Thompson said.

In point of fact, the “silly” hat was the one Chief McKenzie wore to fires and I am guessing none of the firefighters in attendance considered it particularly silly, but Thompson was not going to put it on. He just stood there holding it and staring at it.

To save the moment, Jeri Thompson took the hat from her husband’s hands and put it on her head.

“You look cute,” Thompson said to her. She did.

Jeri took off the hat and McKenzie led the Thompsons over to a fire truck.

The chief invited Thompson to climb up behind the wheel, but Thompson said, “Naw, this is fine.” And he stood there looking at the fire truck.


Thompson walked away from the fire truck, posed for a picture or two and the event was over. He and his entourage got on his bus and roared out of town.


Later in the day, I sent an e-mail to Anelia Dimitrova [editor of the Waverly Democrat], asking her about the private meeting she had with Thompson at the newspaper office.

She e-mailed me back that Thompson “was so vague that I would be hard-pressed to write a story. Simply put, there is no news peg other than he came to the newsroom with his model wife and a beehive of staffers. When I asked him specifically what he would do as prez for farmers in Bremer County, he resorted to glittering generalities.”

So the sum total of Thompson’s day in Waverly was meeting with a newspaper editor and saying nothing and then meeting about 15 people in a warm firehouse and saying nothing.

When he was supposed to go out and find voters in shops and diners, talk to them and answer their questions, he decided to skip it and get back on his luxury bus instead.

That’s not retail politics. That’s not Iowa. And that’s not laconic. That’s lazy.

I really don’t get why Thompson is even in the running. He certainly doesn’t act like he wants to do any work to be president. On the other hand, I guess if he takes a look at how George does it....

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

They Changed Their Minds

The Central Intelligence Agency has agreed to make documents related to the destruction of interrogation videotapes available to the House Intelligence Committee and to allow the agency’s top lawyer, John A. Rizzo, to testify about the matter, Congressional and intelligence officials said Wednesday.


“The Department of Justice has changed their minds, and today we have reason to believe that we will be getting the documents,” [House Intelligence Committee chairman Silvestre] Reyes told reporters on Wednesday.


Changed their minds. Is it coincidental that the the NYT just reported that four White House lawyers were involved?

There may also be audio tapes.

I wondered what has become of the Italian attempt to bring to justice the CIA agents who kidnapped Abu Omar, so I poked around a bit. There is supposed to be a decision on January 29 on whether a state document can be revealed in public court (although it already appeared in the press).

The CIA agents charged, who can be arrested if they go back to Europe, are not likely to make an appearance in Italian court.

The conviction [in absentia] of the Americans is a virtual certainty, say legal observers.


Omar, now wanted in Milan on terrorist charges, would be eligible to collect damages from U.S. and Italian officials in the event of a guilty verdict.

  CQ Politics

And good luck collecting on that U.S. award.

His critics, [Italian prosecutor Armando] Spataro says, “see a trial in absentia of the Americans as an obstacle to fighting terrorism,” meaning that it wrongly targets the CIA, one of the very agencies leading the fight against the terrorists.

“But we,” he stresses, “see following the law as central to the fight against terrorism.”

How novel.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Harold Meyerson Is Tired of His Job

The Op-ed columnist for the Post has penned his resignation, I think.

As Christians across the world prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, it's a fitting moment to contemplate the mountain of moral, and mortal, hypocrisy that is our Christianized Republican Party.


My concern isn't the rift that has opened between Republican political practice and the vision of the nation's Founders, who made very clear in the Constitution that there would be no religious test for officeholders in their enlightened new republic. Rather, it's the gap between the teachings of the Gospels and the preachings of the Gospel's Own Party that has widened past the point of absurdity, even as the ostensible Christianization of the party proceeds apace.


[If] Bush can conform his advocacy of preemptive war with Jesus's Sermon on the Mount admonition to turn the other cheek, he's a more creative theologian than we have given him credit for. Likewise his support of torture.


It's not just Bush whose catechism is a merry mix of torture and piety. Virtually the entire Republican House delegation opposed the ban on waterboarding. Among the Republican presidential candidates, only Huckabee and the not-very-religious John McCain have come out against torture, while only libertarian Ron Paul has questioned the doctrine of preemptive war.


But it's on their policies concerning immigrants where Republicans -- candidates and voters alike -- really run afoul of biblical writ. Not on immigration as such but on the treatment of immigrants who are already here. […] The Bible isn't big on immigrant documentation. "Thou shalt neither vex a stranger nor oppress him," Exodus says the Lord told Moses on Mount Sinai, "for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt."


The demand for a more regulated immigration policy comes from virtually all points on our political spectrum, but the push to persecute the immigrants already among us comes distinctly, though by no means entirely, from the same Republican right that protests its Christian faith at every turn.


We've seen this kind of Christianity before in America. It's more tribal than religious, and it surges at those times when our country is growing more diverse and economic opportunity is not abounding. At its height in the 1920s, the Ku Klux Klan was chiefly the political expression of nativist Protestants upset by the growing ranks of Catholics in their midst.

It's difficult today to imagine KKKers thinking of their mission as Christian, but millions of them did.


The most depressing thing about the Republican presidential race is that the party's rank and file require their candidates to grow meaner with each passing week. And now, inconveniently, inconsiderately, comes Christmas, a holiday that couldn't be better calibrated to expose the Republicans' rank, fetid hypocrisy.

Enjoy your retirement Hal.

Asymetrical Warfare

[California] Border Patrol agents]complain that smugglers are pelting them with rocks, sticks and other debris from the Mexican side of the fence.

Since October, Border Patrol agents in San Diego and Arizona have been using the FN303 Less Lethal System manufactured by FN Herstal, a Belgian arms manufacturer. The FN303 is a high-powered air rifle that can shoot a pepper spray bullet up to 328 feet.

Andrea Zortman, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency in Washington D.C. […] says they’ll expand the use of the FN303s at a later date in Texas.


The tear gas is still lobbed (the old fashioned way) over the fence rather than shot with any type of projectile device.


Is it our imagination, or is the U.S.-Mexico border increasingly starting to feel like the West Bank?

  Texas Observer

The Preacher's Son

[Utopia Animal Rescue 1998] (Miller County, Arkansas) Two boy scout counselors, 17 year old Clayton Frady and 18 year old David [Huckabee], the son of Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, have admitted to catching a stray dog during their summer session at Camp Pioneer in Hatfield, AR, and hanging the dog by his neck, slitting his throat and stoning him to death.

Lambert notices that Michael Isikoff’s coverage of the story for Newsweek is particularly lacking in investigative curiosity on how David Huckabee killed the dog, which as you can see above, really does color the event.

  Crooks and Liars

They were fired from their counselor jobs.

The Huckabee Family

Surprise, Surprise

At least four top White House lawyers took part in discussions with the Central Intelligence Agency between 2003 and 2005 about whether to destroy videotapes showing the secret interrogations of two operatives from Al Qaeda, according to current and former administration and intelligence officials.


But! How could that be? George himself just found out about those tapes being destroyed a few weeks ago! He said so himself.

One former senior intelligence official with direct knowledge of the matter said there had been “vigorous sentiment” among some top White House officials to destroy the tapes. The former official did not specify which White House officials took this position, but he said that some believed in 2005 that any disclosure of the tapes could have been particularly damaging after revelations a year earlier of abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.


Some other officials assert that no one at the White House advocated destroying the tapes. Those officials acknowledged, however, that no White House lawyer gave a direct order to preserve the tapes or advised that destroying them would be illegal.


The current and former officials also provided new details about the role played in November 2005 by Jose A. Rodriguez Jr., then the chief of the agency’s clandestine branch, who ultimately ordered the destruction of the tapes.

The officials said that before he issued a secret cable directing that the tapes be destroyed, Mr. Rodriguez received legal guidance from two C.I.A. lawyers, Steven Hermes and Robert Eatinger.


On Wednesday, the White House press secretary, Dana Perino, issued a statement saying “The New York Times’ inference that there is an effort to mislead in this matter is pernicious and troubling.”

You think maybe this girl who didn’t know what the Cuban Missile Crisis was is in over her head?

The White House has kicked back against the Times on various other front-page reports in recent years but today it has asked for something specific: a "correction" of the [NYT] headline's deck.

The Hill, the Washington, D.C. newspapers, reports, "Catherine Mathis, senior vice president of corporate communications for the newspaper, stated that the sub-headline has been changed, adding that a correction would be printed. However, Mathis also pointed out that the White House did not challenge the contents of the article."

  Editor & Publisher

Yeah, sure. But they know their supporters don’t read past the headlines. The subheadline that the Times “corrected” read: "White House Role Was Wider Than It Said.” They pulled it. Pansies.

Attorney Jonathan Turley comments on the tapes fiasco:

First, the Bush Administration tell Congress and courts that no such evidence exists. Second, while members of Congress, judges, and defense attorneys are demanding the evidence, the Bush Administration methodically gathers every copy and destroys the evidence. Third, while people uniformly demand a special prosecutor, the Justice Department insists that it will investigate itself. Fourth, almost immediately upon rejecting a special prosecutor, the Justice Department then claims its own investigation of its own misconduct as an excuse not to turn over any evidence of its misconduct to courts.


I have seen more reputable conduct from mob attorneys.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Telecom Immunity

Chris Dodd, without Obama, Clinton or Biden, pulled off the filibuster threat for the time being. The FISA bill vote is pushed back to January 15.

Maybe you were one of the people who signed on at Dodd's site to have this thing stopped. Here's his thanks:

To the Core

It seems that the Justice Department delayed prosecution in the 2002 New Hampshire GOP phone jamming operation until after the 2004 election so as not to hurt the GOP cause. Could that be illegal in itself, hmmmm?

Department of Justice.

Hey! More Subpoenas!

In a direct challenge to President Bush, a House panel said Wednesday it has prepared subpoenas to force CIA officials to testify about the agency's secret destruction of interrogation videotapes.


And that was a waste of time, wasn't it?

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Fire on the White House Grounds

Dick Cheney's suite in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. Hmmmmm.

That Turkey Incursion

Little by little, the information seeps out. It seems that Turkey's crossing into Iraq was in bomber planes. No wonder it didn't take more than 15 hours. The U.S. is "angry" that Turkey didn't give us warning. But Turkey said it was in "hot pursuit". Yeah. Whatever to both.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Ethanol Mandate

Congress by a wide margin approved the first increase in automobile fuel economy in 32 years Tuesday, and President Bush has signaled he will accept the mandates on the auto industry.

The energy bill, boosting mileage by 40 percent to 35 miles per gallon, passed the House 314-100 and now goes to the White House, following the Senate's approved last week.

In a dramatic shift to spur increased demand for nonfossil fuels, the bill also requires a six-fold increase in ethanol use to 36 billion gallons a year by 2022, a boon to farmers. And it requires new energy efficiency standards for an array of appliances, lighting and commercial and government buildings.


I remember being in a high school auditorium presentation of what the future of technology looked like. We were told at that time - and that was a loooooong time ago - that they currently had the capability of making automobile engines that could get 100 mpg. And now congress wants to mandate fuel economy for 35. Perhaps because the auto manufacturers are already offering those, so nobody has to lose any contribution money.

I’ll wait here while you go and find a farmer and ask him how much his equipment costs. Remember, it uses petroleum products to run – ask him how many miles to the gallon for kicks (and currently, there aren’t any ethanol combines in production that I know of). He’ll be thinking of resale value and/or conversion costs if he has to replace his fuel-guzzling combine which cost him about as much or more than his house did. And ask him how much fertilizer, herbicides and other inputs he will be using on his crops, and then ask a chemical manufacturer how much petroleum is used in production of those chemicals.

There’s farm land sitting fallow with farmers collecting government handouts to keep it that way, so the space to grow the crops may not be a big issue. I don’t know. But, who is going to pay for the conversion of your farmer friend’s farming equipment to ethanol power? Can it be done? And the conversion of the petroleum-using processes in the manufacturing, delivery and related costs of producing the crop chemicals? How about a substitute for the petroleum that is used as a raw ingredient?

Maybe by 2022, eh? Just asking.

Okay, What's Going On?

Now the report is that the Turkish troops (post below) were only in Iraq for 15 hours. The new AP article says U.S. officials "said they provided Turkish officials with intelligence for airstrikes Sunday in northern Iraq against rebel positions, but also asked them to limit their operations."

....but hey, do what you will anyway.


About 300 Turkish troops crossed the border [into Iraq's Kurdish territory] at 3 a.m., said Jamal Abdullah, a spokesman for the regional Kurdistan government. He said the region was a deserted mountainous frontier area.


"They are going there as reinforcements, they are not returning," the official said on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to the media.


[Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh] said the Iraqi government was given no warning about the incursion.


Abdullah, the spokesman for the regional Kurdish government, also criticized the operation and cautioned that Turkish forces should "be careful not to harm civilians" who might be living in the area.

"If the Turkish military conducts limited operations against the rebels, this is a problem of their concern," he said. "But if this ... leads to harm for civilians, we will absolutely be against that and reject that


Turkey said Sunday's attack used U.S. intelligence and was carried out with tacit American approval.


The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad declined to comment on reports of the Turkish operation.


Perhaps we’re not so opposed to Turkey’s incursion into Iraq as George would have us believe.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Monday, December 17, 2007

What Now?

The White House has been trying to avoid showing records of convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff's visits by claiming that visitor logs are presidential records. U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth today ruled that they are in fact, as they have always been, Secret Service records, and are therefore subject to public viewing under FOI requests. Interestingly, the judge ordered the White House to turn over records on visits of several religious leaders. In the Abramoff case, however, the question was whether it was illegal for the White House to order the Secret Service to destroy their copies of the logs after they'd given them to the President, and Judge Lamberth said he didn't have the authority to rule on that issue. Hmm.

....well, do what you will anyway.

Telecom Immunity

At TPM Cafe, Russ Feingold discusses where things stand with the attempt to provide retroactive immunity to companies who cooperated with the government's illegal wiretapping program.

Update: Chris Dodd left the Iowa campaigning behind to filibuster the bill for "as long as he can." Senators Obama, Biden and Clinton have said they'll support him. That support would come in the form of being there to ask questions of him while he's on the floor as a ruse to give him a speaking break. But they're still in Iowa.

Update 12/19/07: Dodd pulled it off without having to filibuster - at least for the time being.

Tea Party Nets Over 6 Million for Ron Paul

Click to enlarge graph

Yes, the mainstream noticed.

For some reason, nothing at big name TPM blog as of 11:00 am central. Very nasty over at Wonkette. (It appears I'm not missing out on much more than bile by not reading that well-read blog.)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Marvel Zombies

Remember this bizarre episode in U.S. military fantasy? Graphic evidence of the total disconnect of the Bush administration from the reality of war.

Rumsfeld and other comic book heroes.

WASHINGTON, April 28, 2005 - Message to U.S. troops: Spiderman and Captain America Support You. And the two Marvel Comics superheroes came to the Pentagon today to prove it.

  American Supports You

[April 2005] The Army and Air Force Exchange Service joined forces with Marvel Comics to distribute their free comic book, the fifth installment of a military-only series that began in April 2005 with “The New Avengers,” a partnership between Marvel Comics, America Supports You and AAFES.

You can grab one of the comic books at your nearest AAFES store on Army and Air Force bases, while supplies last. Any customer authorized to shop at military exchanges — including active-duty service members, National Guard and reserve troops, retirees and their families from all branches of service — can get a free copy.


"Today we are launching the first of what we hope will be a series of books to provide entertainment to our troops here and abroad," said Rob Steffens, Marvel's senior vice president for operations, in announcing that the company is donating 1 million comic books to the military. The comics will be distributed in military exchanges throughout the world.


Army Col. Joe Mudd, who works on the Joint Staff, said he believes comics are a good method to get out a message of support for the military.


"We like the good guys to win, and we think we're the good guys too." Mudd said the storylines in many popular comics "speak to what we strive for as individuals and as a nation."

  Army Times

[October 2007] As though admitted an arrested development to their own fighting force, in 2005 the Department of Defense partnered with Marvel to launch a custom imprint for troops deployed to the Middle East.


The fifth issue, released last month to soldiers serving with Centcom, depicts Captain America striking an iconic pose with Avengers assembling behind him, overshadowed by an armed and masked enemy. And at a glance, through the menacing figure's eye slits, he's obviously depicted with a complexion by which Centcom identifies the enemy.

Marvel's privileged relationship with the Pentagon, as tacit incubator and explicit feedlot for its slaughterhouse, makes its latest phenomenal success of particular grim interest.

  Rigorous Intuition

Marvel Zombies is a set of comic book miniseries published by Marvel Comics beginning in 2005. The various series are set in an alternate version of the Marvel Universe where almost all superheroes and supervillains have become flesh-eating zombies.


The series title derives from the nickname "Marvel zombies", used in the fan press to describe very dedicated Marvel Comics fans.


There are a lot of monstrous metaphors available to describe America's descent from pulp fiction superhero to real world arch-villain, but perhaps the most apt is the zombie. There's the relentless and insatiable consumption of goods, fuel and lives which devours entire nations without thought or apology - Iraq's genetic future may be "for the most part destroyed" - and threatens even the viability of life on the planet. It even eats brains. Consider the occupation's targeted slaughter of Iraqi intellectuals.

A vampire would be preferable. I could see trying to talk things out with one. Probably not successfully, but there's at least the vain hope. A zombie? First of all, it's already dead. And last, I'm only food. Do you explain yourself to your breakfast?

There's no coming back from Iraq. There's no homecoming for Captain America. And don't wait for a hero, because he's only going to eat you.

  Rigorous Intuition

DooDoo Economics

Quick quiz: what's going to cost the U.S. more over the next decade: the exploding costs of entitlements like Social Security and Medicare or Bush's tax cuts? Despite all the talk we hear about the prior, it's not even close -- the tax cuts are poised to cost the treasury far, far, more.

And yet, every Republican presidential candidate in the field, to a man, vows to make each of Bush's cut permanent, beyond their scheduled expiration in 2010. As the NYT's Tom Redburn notes today, over the next 10 years, it will cost "roughly $2.5 trillion in revenues now expected under current law. And that's just the beginning."


No serious people believe this. Bush’s own budget director, Jim Nussle, recently said, “There are those including myself who … in the passion of the argument have made statements — I think I even made a statement once — that tax relief did pay for itself.” Needless to say, Nussle doesn’t believe that anymore. Edward P. Lazear, chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers, has said the same thing: “I certainly would not claim that tax cuts pay for themselves.”

And yet there’s Giuliani, bragging in a TV commercial about what he claims to “know” about tax policy. [“I know that reducing taxes produces more revenues.”] Please.

Of course, it’s worth noting that he’s not the only leading Republican making truly bizarre claims about taxes.

Today, Michael Kinsley takes Fred Thompson and Mike Huckabee to task for their own nonsense.

  The Carpetbagger

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

New Weapons

US cops are testing an Israeli gun that fires around corners.

Wexler Wants Hearings: Impeach Cheney

Speaking at a telephone press conference Friday organized by, Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL) said that following a bi-partisan vote Nov. 7 by the full House to send Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s Cheney impeachment bill (H Res 799, formerly H Res 333) to the Judiciary Committee, it was time for those hearings to "immediately" get underway.

Scoffing at the argument that has been made by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and others in the Democratic leadership that impeachment might hurt Democratic chances in the November ’08 elections, or that it could deter Democrats from their Congressional agenda, Wexler says, "I believe that there is a constitutional obligation for the Congress to hold this administration accountable, and it should not depend on what people think the impact might be on an election. The only question should be: Did Vice President Cheney abuse his powers?"

  Daily Kos

Well, thank you Robert Wexler.

Wexler reports that an opinion article penned by himself and two Judiciary Committee colleagues, Reps. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), which was sent to a number of leading newspapers, including the Miami Herald, the Washington Post and the New York Times, was rejected for publication—an astonishing act of censorship for a document authored by three members of congress on an issue of such significance as impeachment of the vice president.


To push back against this unseemly resistance Rep. Wexler and his two House colleagues have decided to go public with their message. Wexler has set up a website, called WexlerWantsHearings. He is urging Americans from across the country to go to the sign and sign on to his call for an immediate start to hearings. "I want to be able to go to my colleagues in the house and say I have 55,000 people calling for hearings," he says.

People should also be contacting their local and national media outlets—and especially the New York Times, Washington Post and Miami Herald—demanding that they report openly and honestly on the growing impeachment movement, and that they publish the Wexler, Gutierrez Baldwin op-ed.


Wexler’s, Gutierrez’s and Baldwin’s new push on impeachment comes just as Kucinich, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, has announced that he is preparing to file a major bill of impeachment against President Bush. Kucinich is reportedly working on a sweeping 50-page impeachment bill containing over 20 counts of high crimes and misdemeanors against the president.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Dr. Paul Cured Their Apathy

Today is the second big one-day internet contribution drive for Ron Paul. The first, a record-breaker, was November 5 and netted over $4 million. These drives are not conducted by the Ron Paul campaign, but by individuals mostly through the internet. Mainstream media still ignores the phenomenon, and even internet sources are beginning to publish stories about none of the Republican candidates being viable.

Raw Story has video of a PBS NOW program on "the Ron Paul Revolution."

NOW has an extended interview with Paul, and Bill Moyers conducted one in 2004.

Update December 17: Way over the top: The Tea Party netted over 6 million dollars.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Musical Chairs

The Justice Department's voting rights chief stepped down Friday amid allegations that he'd used the position to aid a Republican strategy to suppress African-American votes.


Department spokesman Peter Carr said in a statement that [John] Tanner, of his own accord, "made the decision to pursue (an) opportunity" to work in the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices.


Why not see what damage he can do there?

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Bill Moyers Interviews Keith Olbermann

Click the picture

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

By Design

In 2005, a federal judge appointed by George Bush, John Jones III, slapped down a bid in Dover, Pennsylvania, to insert creationism into public school science. (He received death threats for his efforts.) Don’t expect the creationists to give up. Texas looks like friendly territory.

The Austin-American Statesman reported last week that science curriculum director Chris Comer's ouster followed her circulation of an email announcing an upcoming speech by Barbara Forrest, co-author of Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design and an expert witness in Kitzmiller v. Dover.


Hours after Comer used her work email account to forward the Forrest announcement to friends and a few online communities, Texas Education Agency adviser Lizzette Reynolds emailed Comer's bosses and called for her dismissal.


Now, it appears that TEA employees can also jeopardize their jobs for not having a sufficiently sunny attitude about the current education scheme in Texas. In October, Lizzette Reynolds - the same person who called for Comer to be fired - found a “fire-able offense” in an email sent by Cami Jones, TEA’s director of early childhood development, according to copies of agency e-mails obtained by the Observer.


The offending line came at the end of a long e-mail Jones sent to Pam Schiller, a freelance early childhood consultant and author, answering a question about upcoming revisions to the Pre-K curriculum. “I long for the good ole’ days when we were making good things happen for young children. Those were the days….take care….”

  Texas Observer

Alas, Ms. Jones is the one who needed to “take care.”

Schiller said Jones has butted heads with the No Child Left Behind partisans who run the show at TEA. “I think Cami has a difficult time there,” Schiller said. “She is kind of Don Quixote. She fights for the rights of children in a sturdy way. She is firm in her philosophical foundation of what she thinks is appropriate for small children … I wouldn’t be surprised if they weren’t looking for a way to make her quiet.”

In the interview with the Statesman published today, Reynolds baldly asserted that she “doesn’t think there is a muzzle on anyone [at TEA]. Everyone can express their opinions — goodness knows I have many — but we are a state agency and must respect the beliefs of Catholics, atheists, Jews, Christians, Muslims, everyone.”

But we won’t be listening to information that shows “intelligent design” is not science.

According to the [Institute for Creation], based in Dallas, “flexible blood vessels” discovered in dinosaur bones proves that dinos have only been around for centuries instead of millenia. Also, in the ICR’s December issue of Acts & Facts, the ICR’s director of research, Dr. Vardiman, discusses his scientific project called RATE (that’s radioisotopes and the age of earth for the uninitiated). His findings have led to the major conclusion that the Earth is thousands — not billions of years old. Dr. Vardiman admits he’s still struggling with some pesky scientific questions

  Texas Observer

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Committee tabled consideration until January of the Institute for Creation Research’s request to grant degrees in Texas.


When asked if the commissioners wanted the subject read out at the meeting, they mumbled “no thanks” and the subject was tabled until the next board meeting on January 24th.

“It would seem odd for a state agency to certify a science degree at an institution that doesn’t teach science,” says Dan Quinn, Communications director at Texas Freedom Network.

Odd indeed, but then again, this is Texas.

  Texas Observer

Nova has a 2-hour documentary (in several parts so you can watch it as you find the time) available on its website entitled: Judgment Day: Intelligent design on trial. I saw it on TV recently, and learned, as did Judge Jones, a lot more about research and new evidence for the theory of evolution since I was in school. It’s a very nicely put together program. I recommend you watch it if you haven’t seen it already or didn't follow the Dover case.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Shameless Political Pandering

According to their respective speeches, John Kennedy may not have been the Catholic candidate for President, and Twit Romney may not be the Mormon candidate for President, but Mike Huckabee is the Batptist candidate for President.

"My faith is my life -- it defines me. I don't separate my faith from my personal and professional lives," he says on his campaign Web site.


Indeed, a taste for how Huckabee would intertwine faith and state came early into his foray in government. When asked why he chose to move from his position as pastor of Arkansas' 490,000-person Southern Baptist church into a life of politics, he said he did so at the behest of a higher power. "I hope we answer the alarm clock and take this nation back for Christ."


In 1998 he signed a statement urging wives to "graciously submit to their husband's sacrificial leadership."


He hired church groups to run welfare and youth programs. When the Arkansas' divorce rate skyrocketed, Huckabee turned to his Baptist roots, instituting "covenant marriages," which encouraged training on healthy relationships and made it harder for people to divorce. Even the cars in Arkansas bore Huckabee's religious fingerprint. In March 2003, he approved, as several other governors had, specialty license plates with a "Choose Life" message on them.


[A]t a rally for a group called Put God Back in Public School, he was videotaped offering his support for the idea of a "public Christian school."


[However,] Huckabee signed off on legislation to significantly expand gambling at Arkansas' historic racetracks, despite obvious religious objections. Without the measure the sites would have gone under, and jobs and revenue would have been lost. Huckabee, even his supporters admit, simply chose pragmatism over faith.


Asked to explain his recent rise in the polls, he once again resorted to the providential. "There's only one explanation for it," Huckabee proclaimed, "and it's not a human one."

  Huffington Post

Sadly, it’s all too human. Mike Huckabee is a shameless panderer.

Huckabee used God as a prop in a 2004 Republican Governors Association Dinner speech, pretending to take a phone call from him on stage. (YouTube)

He's also a liar and a fool. Cliff Schecter records three times that Huckabee has publicly stated he has a Theologian’s Degree. Did he think no one would check? Joe Carter, Huckabee's director of research, had to send out an email correcting the thrice-told lie:

Governor Huckabee doesn’t have a theology degree. He only spent a year in seminary.

Whatever his religious character flaws may be, at least we know Huckabee is experienced in the great tradition of political secretiveness:

Huckabee depleted the governor's emergency fund before he left office, the state Bureau of Legislative Research reported, including spending $13,000 to have computer hard drives in his office crushed.

  Arkansas News

And playing funny with the money:

Huckabee, in his political debut, was preparing to become the Bible-thumping, abortion-decrying Republican challenger to U.S. Sen. Dale Bumpers, the Democratic incumbent. With a playbook straight out of James Dobson, he tried to portray Bumpers as a pornographer for his support of federal grants to the arts.


In the 1992 contest with Bumpers, Huckabee used campaign funds to pay himself as his own media consultant. Other payments went to the family babysitter.

In his successful 1994 run for lieutenant governor, he set up a nonprofit curtain known as Action America so he could give speeches for money without having to disclose the names of his benefactors. He failed to report that campaign travel payments were for the use of his own personal plane.

After he became governor in 1996, he raked in tens of thousands of dollars in gifts, including gifts from people he later appointed to prestigious state commissions.


Furniture he'd received to doll up his office was carted out with him when he left, after he'd crushed computer hard drives so nobody could ever get a peek behind the curtain of the Huckabee administration.


Until [...] the Arkansas Times blew the whistle, he converted a governor's mansion operating account into a personal expense account, claiming public money for a doghouse, dry-cleaning bills, panty hose and meals at Taco Bell.


He ran the State Police airplane into the ground, many of the miles in pursuit of political ends. Inauguration funds were used to buy clothing for his wife. He once took control of the state Republican Party's campaign account -- then swore the account had been somebody else's responsibility when it ran afoul of federal election laws.


Three decades after the Huckabees' wedding, his wife registered at department stores so their new home, post-governor's mansion, could be stocked with gifts of linens, toasters and other suitable furnishings.


[U]ltimately Huckabee ended press services, which are publicly financed, to […] the Arkansas Times.


We also know that, like Bush, he is qualified to pander to the Religious Right without really meeting their demands.

He professed opposition to alcohol and gambling, but he allowed passage of legislation that made it easier for restaurants to obtain private-club mixed-drink permits in dry counties. Over the angry objection of the church lobby, he sped final action on a bill to allow video poker at the state's racetracks, an act followed not long afterward by a $10,000 campaign contribution from the owner of the state's biggest race track, at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs.


He also, like Bush, surrounds himself with other schoolyard bullies.

Back in August, following the circulation of an anti-Catholic letter by a Huckabee-supporting Iowa pastor (to which Catholic then-presidential contender Sam Brownback took offense), the Huckabee camp refused to apologize. Instead, they urged Brownback to show "Christian character" and "stop whining."


Because Catholic-bashing shows so much Christian character.

Huckabee studied theology as a seminarian, yet when asked about Mormonism he becomes a country bumpkin who doesn't know anything beyond the rumors he has heard. He apologizes later -- as he did this week for his false suggestion that Mormons believe Satan is Jesus's brother -- but by then, of course, the damage is done. Huckabee could easily allay fundamentalist voters' qualms about Romney's beliefs, or at least put them in context. He chooses not to.

That doesn't strike me as a very Christian way for an ordained minister to behave.


Well, no. But there’s a lot in religious practices that isn’t very Christian, and Huckabee is a politician and a panderer.On the other hand, I myself am sure that Jesus and Satan are brothers, even if the Mormons aren’t aware of it. And yet, I say…

....hey, believe what you will anyway.

Saturday Roundup

Musharraf lifted emergency rule in Pakistan today.

The US representative to Bali's climate talks was appropriately told that the rest of the world looked to the US to lead, but if we're not going to lead, we should get out of the way.

News sources are making a big deal out of the US delegate's turn-around to finally agree to consensus on the accord. That accord is an agreement to begin 2-year negotiations to revamp the Kyoto treaty. So, don't worry. We can still stand in the way when it matters.

[Mitch] McConnell and his fellow Republicans are playing such tight defense, blocking nearly every bill proposed by the slim Democratic majority that they are increasingly able to dictate what they want, much to the dismay of the majority leader, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, and frustrated Democrats in the House.

In fact, the Senate Republicans are so accustomed to blocking measures that when the Democrats finally agreed last week to their demands on a bill to repair the alternative minimum tax, the Republicans still objected, briefly blocking the version of the bill that they wanted before scrambling to approve it later.


Maru at WTF reacts:

Unprincipled scumholes. Jebus Christ. And don't get me started on the Capitulation Party. Damn.

Iran absolutely, positively must not have any nuclear weapons capabilities. Libya, on the other hand, may. And Pakistan? Already done. And, hey, the US government already made available the information necessary on a military website. Arab translation gratis.

The reaction at WTF?

The Democratic "opposition" in Congress – you know, the party that represents the common people, good working folk and the most vulnerable in our society: the sick, the old, the poor, the children – have just effected yet another capitulation to Money Power, gutting an energy bill that would have required Big Oil – now reaping the most gargantuan profit margins in the entire history of human enterprise – to pay a pittance in new taxes.


These measures – displeasing to the boardroom lords and their viceroy in the White House – were dutifully stripped out by Senate Majority Leader Harry "Shaky Knees" Reid.

  Empire Burlesque

Time and time again, President Bush has run circles around what is, at least on paper, a co-equal branch of government. Sometimes he doesn't bother to ask Congress for its approval. Sometimes he demands it -- and gets it.

Amazingly enough, that didn't change when the Democrats won control of the House and Senate. They just make a bit more fuss before rolling over.

Charles Babington writes for the Associated Press: "Congressional Democrats prepared Wednesday for major concessions on Iraq war funding, children's health insurance, tax policies, general spending and energy, because they could not overcome vetoes by President Bush.


Historians looking back on the Bush presidency may well wonder if Congress actually existed.


By a vote of 12-7, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved contempt resolutions against Karl Rove and Joshua Bolten, White House chief of staff.

The criminal contempt resolutions now move to the Senate floor, although no action on them is expected until next year.


I would have said that no action on them is expected, period. Maybe a little toothless verbiage.

Two major Republicans voted for the resolution which comes from the refusal of the WH to testify or turn over documents on the Attorney General purges: Arlen Spector and Iowa’s Charles Grassley.

Seattle’s Democratic Reprsentative Jim McDermott, however, showing a suicidal choice of battles, voted against a resolution”recognizing the importance of Christmas” as a protest to Bush’s power over Congress.

"While the Republicans are passing a resolution celebrating Christmas, the president was vetoing health care for children. There's a little bit of irony going on around here," McDermott said Thursday.

Earlier this year, McDermott voted in favor of resolutions honoring Ramadan and Diwali. Ramadan is an Islamic holiday, while Diwali is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and others.

  Bellingham Herald

....but hey, do what you will anyway.